Better late than never, SHASCOM dispatchers celebrate Appreciation Week in full fashion
SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — Although the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and public health crisis delayed their participation of Dispatch Appreciation Week, which is normally celebrated the second week of April, SHASCOM employees pulled out all the stops and celebrated in full fashion last week.
With this being October and with Halloween right around the corner, SHASCOM dispatchers celebrated every day from Sunday Oct. 11 through Sunday Oct. 17 with themed dress-up days, along with daily themed activities and unique daily food choices – which were generously funded by the Redding Peace Officers’ Association and Redding Police Manager’s Association.
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During each of those days, dispatchers from the two shifts – days and graveyards, dressed in themed costumes, complete with props and extras; with Facebook followers being given the opportunity to vote for their favorites throughout the week.
Dispatchers kicked off their week-long celebration with “Senior Sunday”, where they “paid homage to all of the dispatch professionals who came before them” while “sporting some retro looks,” according to SHASCOM911’s Facebook page, where they posted photos of the daily costumes and fun activities.
While all of three of the dayshift dispatchers received many online votes, the gorgeous ol’ grandma in the first image stood out among the others. Interestingly, some who voted said they dressed just like the gal who came in third place!
With the vast majority of nightshift votes being cast for the spunky granny with the moose in her caboose, the “Life Alert” octogenarian barely edged out the “Bingo Queen” for second place. The other night shift fella came dressed up in his normal daily attire, so we’re not sure if he missed the memo!
Saying, “Hidey-Ho neighbor!”, the following day’s theme was “Movie Monday”, where the dispatchers were encouraged to dress up like their favorite movie or TV characters. To make their Monday more special, American Medical Response Shasta even brought ice cream for the dispatchers to enjoy.
Josie Geller from the movie Never Been Kissed made her day shift win look easy, while Thor couldn’t quite hammer out a win over the Riddler. He did fly right past Bird In The Box, though.
Wilson, from the TV show “Home Improvement” easily – and with a few wise words of witty wisdom – nosed his (her) way to the top of the graveyard heap; while Ghostbusters’ Ray Stantz and Lizzie McGuire tied for second place, barely edging out Topanga from Boy Meets World.
With coffee and donuts supplied by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, next on the week’s list of themed costumes and activities was “Time Travel Tuesday”, where overnight dispatchers proclaimed “Graves is Grooooooovy, Baby!”
According to the numbers, the 1990s was the place to be for a first place dayshift win, while King Tut walked like an Egyptian right into the number two slot. When it came to third place, more preferred the simpler times of the 1950’s compared to the Oingo Boingo days of the1980’s.
Without a doubt, Captain Cavewoman clubbed her way to the top of the graveyard shift, with the peace and love of the 1970s coming in second and third place. Once again the fella, who was “running” late for his shift, came in his regular clothes. Some people…
In addition to all the fun themed costumes throughout the week, on Tuesday dispatchers honored their pick for Rookie of the Year, Rheanna Jones.
Each year the award goes to a dispatcher nominated by other employees, “who stands out amongst the crowd, provides excellent customer service to the citizens of Shasta County, and has a desire to learn and to be the absolute best dispatcher possible.”
Having been with SHASCOM for just over a year, Jones “excels in the area of customer service and has proven to be a true asset to our team,” according to SHASCOM’s social media post that day.
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As the old John Lydgate saying goes, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” And no matter how hard our dedicated dispatchers try there is always someone who has a complaint about something. So Wednesday’s theme was appropriately named, “Meet the Manager”.
“Karen” gives the second place day shifter a stern and disapproving look for chatting on her cell phone rather than answering the pending call reporting a cat up a tree.
Once again “Manager Karen” beat back the graveyard shift competition, while the other three managers were sent back to training for remediation.
Next on the week’s agenda was Topsy Turvy Thursday where all the dispatchers came together to celebrate and dress up as their favorite “Dispatcher of the Year”, Brittany Toft.
Explaining, “She is an invaluable member of the SHASCOM Team,” Toft began her SHASCOM career in 2013, according to an official citation she was presented with.
The citation went on to explain that Toft is an ideal call-taker, who is quick to obtain information, while remaining compassionate and professional, and that she sets the bar high for other dispatchers; many of whom she personally helped train over the years.
Toft was all smiles as she received her citation from Mrs. Potato Head. Later, with all the dispatchers dressed as Toft for a group photo, it was hard to pick out the “real” Dispatcher of the Year!
As SHASCOM’s week-long celebration was nearing its last days, dispatchers pulled out all the stops for “Formal Friday”, where they came “dressed to the nines” in their best formal attire.
Everyone was a winner for the spectacular outfits they donned for Formal Friday!
On the last day of their special week, dispatchers wrapped up their appreciation celebration with a very unique theme, “2020 Saturday”, saying, “What better way than to dress up as 2020?”
Complete with a box of hoarded toilet paper and one of Carole Baskins’ tigers around a burning dumpster representing the “2020 commemorative candle”, the Covid mask and MAGA hat-wearing “Spirit of 2020” seemed as doomed as what it represented, but still managed a second place finish behind Barbara Walters. Both of the other dispatchers chose elements of one of the year’s most popular mini-series, “The Tiger King” for their costumes.
Throughout the fun-filled week, dispatchers received daily visits from other nearby agencies who are served by SHASCOM, as well as receiving sweets, treats and gifts brought in from individual citizens and businesses throughout the community.
Just a few of those special deliveries included Shasta County Sheriff’s Shasta Lake Station and Anderson Florist, who on Monday brought a large bouquet of flowers, saying, “The flowers are just as beautiful as all the people behind the radio.”
On Tuesday, Chief Schueller and Captain Barner from the Redding Police Department also showed their appreciation and gratitude for all that SHASCOM dispatchers do for their officers by bringing in a beautiful floral arrangement from Floranthropist.
On Wednesday, dayshift dispatchers were surprised by RapidDeploy, who treated them to pizza for lunch. Later in the evening, members from the Anderson Police Officers’ Association arranged a very sweet treat from Sweet Life Desserts, who brought a food trailer so they could make made-to-order treats that looked so delicious they should be outlawed.
Knowing how much their dispatchers love coffee, on Friday the Shasta County Deputy Sheriff’s Association brought in Dutch Brothers Coffee along with gift cards, so the dispatchers could get their favorite java drink on their time off. Later that day, ServPro of North Shasta brought in sandwiches and other treats from Jersey Mike’s.
“Our Public Safety Dispatchers are a unique breed,” SHASCOM Operations Manager Laurie Sowder told SCNS at the conclusion of the dispatchers’ special week. “They come to work and plug-in every single day, never knowing what kind of a shift it will be.”
“They don’t always realize the impact they have on the people’s lives that they save every single day and we are proud of the heart and passion they have for their profession.”
“Dispatchers are the gold line that holds it all together,” Sowder continued; adding, “Their commitment is appreciated by the public safety community and the citizens that they serve.”
As the week’s celebration came to an end, Justin Flores, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff deputy who now resides in Shasta County told SCNS, “No matter what we say or do to show our appreciation, we could never do enough for our dispatchers,” who he referred to as “the faceless voices behind the never-ending 911 calls who direct our emergency responders where they are needed, when they are needed.”
“Often the unsung heroes behind the dangerous and sometimes deadly calls our emergency agencies respond to, no amount of thanks could ever truly capture just how important they are as the backbone of our emergency responders.”
Robert Carter, of Facebook’s Public Safety Incidents, who was a volunteer dispatcher/ firefighter for Riverside County Fire Department/Cal Fire for 10 years and worked as an EMT for 19 years, echoed Flores’ sentiments, telling SCNS, “Our dispatchers need to be appreciated.”
“Dispatchers are unseen but are always there behind the scenes and are the first contact when you call for help,” Carter continued. “They do an amazing job keeping our first responders safe and assisting with life saving measures over the phone at times.”
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“For far too long dispatchers haven’t been recognized as frontline emergency responders which is exactly what they are,” Joetta Ferguson, who is an administrator on Facebook’s Redding Crime and Community Alert/Shasta County and whose sister spent many years as a dispatcher for Whiskeytown in Shasta County, told SCNS.
“I truly believe they are the thin gold line which makes our public safety system work,” Ferguson explained. “They answer 911 calls, send the needed response, keep track of where all of our emergency responders out in the field are and have to be able to calmly and efficiently respond to both the horrific and sometimes humorous things they hear.”
“Firemen get signs put up to tell them thank you and folks will often shake the hand of police officers on duty but dispatchers walk unseen among us,” Ferguson continued; adding, “So it’s very important that their contributions to our security and safety are acknowledged and celebrated during their week of recognition.”
SHASCOM, the Shasta Area Safety Communications Agency, is a joint powers agency that provides 911 and dispatch services for Anderson Police Department, Redding Police and Fire Departments, and the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the County’s EMS providers. For more information about SHASCOM and all that their hardworking and dedicated dispatchers do for Shasta County and the multiple agencies they serve, visit them on Facebook or online.
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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.