Behind-the-scenes heroes: True life-saving tales from dispatcher - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Behind-the-scenes heroes: True life-saving tales from dispatchers


They can't see you, but they can save you. Dispatchers get the shout out this week.

This week we salute dispatchers for National Public Safety Telecommunications Appreciation Week.

Some dispatchers shared true stories of what they deal with behind-the-scenes in law enforcement; ranging from stressful to dangerous.

It's a job that's about more than answering the phone

Dispatchers in Butler County say anything can happen.

"It's everything from stealing to domestics or burglaries in progress," said Dispatcher Whitney Chamblin.

When you are in trouble they guide deputies to real situations of life and death.

Whitney Chamblin said every second matters in a call.

She recalled moments as a dispatcher that she'll never forget.

Such as when a woman called with a muffled voice, her life in danger. She told Chamblin someone was assaulting her and Whitney had difficulty determining where in the county she was located.

"She needed us to be at her house now," Chamblin remembers. "The deputies ended up getting someone in custody and she was alright."

Her husband Ben Chamblin is a Butler County Deputy.

He said his wife's role is critical, and the same goes for every dispatcher on the team.

"They give us all the information before we even get to the call," said Deputy Chamblin. "If we didn't have them we wouldn't know what we were going up on. They are truly our eyes and ears."

"You have to stay calm," said Whitney Chamblin. "You have to be very put-together no matter what they're reporting to you and you have to know the right questions."

"We do a lot of jobs," said Frankie Casteel of the department. "The dispatchers, we're considered life lines."

Frankie Casteel remembers what lead up to a moment when a little kid was returned to her family after after she was allegedly kidnapped.

Casteel described how he was the one who answered the phone when the suspect called.

"I was able to talk to him until we found him on Highway 160," said Casteel of the case in October of 2012.

He said with the help of his team, the little girl was returned safely to her family.

"It was adrenalin and the training," said Casteel. "The classes, the people supporting me through it, it all just kicked in."

"The most critical calls when we have to be on our toes is when there's a call in progress," said Dispatcher Alexis Rodriguez. "We have to stay calm and get our officers where they need to be because these are things that are happening right now."

The Butler County team also described a recent situation to take a suspect off the street.

It happened Tuesday, April 14 when deputies stopped Sammie Redmond, a suspect on the run.

Redmond now faces numerous felony charges after a vehicle pursuit, short manhunt through the words and includes charges for assault on law enforcement officers after Sheriff Mark Dobbs said Redmond rammed a deputy's truck.

"The dispatcher that took that call was key. He's been on the job for a couple of years and without him being our link it could have turned out differently," said Casteel.

"Those are critical situations. You have to stay calm, and you have to be able to multitask to take specific and important information and keep the public and our deputies safe," said Rodriguez.

Why do they do it? They say because it means everything to them to protect and serve.

"It's not a job for the weak," said Rodriguez. "We get a lot of training and it's all so important. We love helping the community."

"We do this because we want to make a difference," said Chamblin.

They even shared some funny stories, such as people calling saying they just wanted to let them know they are speeding because of an emergency.

"We try to keep them calm, but we can't tell them it's alright to speed. Of course that's when we try to get deputies or highway patrol involved to possibly meet them and encourage them to drive safely. You never know what's going to happen. It can get your heart racing," said Whitney Chamblin.

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