This is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, and the spotlight is on the Missoula County 9-1-1 call center.

9-1-1 Manager Sherry Odlin provides details about her agency.

“We currently have 23 dispatchers working,” said Odlin. “Four of those are our leads and we answer all the 9-1-1 calls, both emergency and non-emergency calls from Missoula County. We dispatch police department, the sheriff’s department all the fire, ambulance and medical services in the county.”

Odlin said about 50 percent of those who apply for the job end up leaving before the training was over due to the intense nature of the work and that the job can take a toll on their personal lives.

Odlin said each new dispatcher receives intensive training and can access special help that was originated in the Missoula County Attorney’s Office called Secondary Trauma counseling.

“We brought that same gentleman in and did that Secondary Trauma for our dispatchers just recently and it has done amazing things,” she said. “Hopefully, things will calm down a little bit. However, with COVID 19 we are bringing them back to do some more counseling like the County Attorney’s Office has done and it has been a big help.”

Odlin said with all the stresses that come with the job of being a 9-1-1 dispatcher, the rewards can be great, as well.

“It is very rewarding,” she said. “There are calls that come out that are very happy and they do make up for the other types of calls when we’ve done everything we can and it didn’t come out with the ending that we all wanted.”

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