April 14-20 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time set aside to recognize the more than 200,000 individuals throughout the U.S. who play critical roles in the delivery of public safety services. Often called the “heroes behind the headsets,” these men and women provide a lifeline to both citizens in need and officers in the field. They serve as an unseen, but vital link in keeping law enforcement officers and the public safe at all times of the day or night.
The Kentucky State Police employs 193 telecommunicators at 16 sites throughout the state. In 2018, they answered a total of 493,186 requests for assistance. The following incidents illustrate the impact these dispatchers can have in the performance of their daily duties.
Somerset-resident Randall J. Adams is a Police Telecommunicator II at KSP Post 15 in Columbia. Adams distinguished himself during a 2017 incident when a military veteran, who suffered from PTSD, told his family that he was going to commit suicide somewhere in Cumberland County. Unable to make contact with the subject by phone, Adams left a voice mail message that he was also a veteran and just wanted to help. A short time later, the subject returned the call stating that he had already shot himself in the chest. Through labored breathing, the subject described his surroundings and Adams was able to direct troopers to the location. The subject was transported from the scene and received medical treatment that saved his life.
Adams is the son of the late Jessie Adams of Columbia and Verlene Adams of Somerset.
Lawrenceburg-resident Megan Smith is a Police Telecommunicator II assigned to KSP Post 12 in Frankfort. Smith distinguished herself in 2018 by helping the Taylorsville Police Dept. locate a missing female subject.
Smith contacted the subject’s cell phone provider for assistance and started the process to have her phone “pinged.” After a short period, the subject was located inside a car with the windows rolled up. A responding officer opened the door to find her hot to the touch, no longer sweating, gasping for breath and unresponsive. It took several days for the female to regain consciousness and it was determined she had suffered a stroke.
The Taylorsville Police Chief said, “Without Dispatcher Smith, no phone would have been tracked. The subject would have not been found in time and we would be mourning her loss.” He also noted, “It is without a doubt that the direct actions of Dispatcher Smith, which were beyond the scope of her duties, but not the scope of her compassion, are the reason the subject is still alive today.”
Smith is the daughter of Greg and Patty Wolf of Lawrenceburg, Ky.
“The actions of Randall Adams and Megan Smith saved lives in both of these incidents,” said KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders. “Their quick response made a real difference that mattered. That’s why the Kentucky State Police consider our telecommunicators some of our most treasured assets. It’s a noble calling that can provide a very fulfilling, admirable and honorable career.”
For more information or to apply for a telecommunication position with KSP, log on to the state personnel website at www.personnel.ky.gov