Left to right, Ed Weirrick, Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher; State Rep. Craig Riedel; Pam Dull, Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher; Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger; Mayor Jerry Mazur; Cathy Binkley, Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Commissioner Todd Wolfrum; Stephanie Harter, Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Ashlynn Friesner, Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Commissioner Stan Owens; Chris Cunningham, Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Brittany Sinn, Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher; Rick Spoor, Van Wert Police Department dispatcher; Jim Wilcox, Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; and Kim Brandt, 9-1-1 Coordinator. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Left to right, Ed Weirrick, Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher; State Rep. Craig Riedel; Pam Dull, Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher; Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger; Mayor Jerry Mazur; Cathy Binkley, Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Commissioner Todd Wolfrum; Stephanie Harter, Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Ashlynn Friesner, Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Commissioner Stan Owens; Chris Cunningham, Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; Brittany Sinn, Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher; Rick Spoor, Van Wert Police Department dispatcher; Jim Wilcox, Sheriff’s Office dispatcher; and Kim Brandt, 9-1-1 Coordinator. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – A large group of public officials, including law enforcement, county commissioners and other Van Wert officials gathered at Wild Willy’s on Thursday afternoon to honor local dispatchers inside the city and the surrounding area.

The special luncheon was given in recognition of April 9 to 15 serving as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

“The week is in recognition and honor of emergency dispatchers, those who have chosen public safety as a profession across the country,” said Kim Brandt, 911 Coordinator for Van Wert County, who organized the event. “With dispatchers being available 24 hours a day, the career choice can be demanding.”

Cathy Binkley, who is a dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Department, worked for eight years, retired for two years and then came back. This time, she is not even thinking of retiring.

“I love dispatching,” said Binkley. “I love working with people in the Sheriff’s Office.”

Binkley said that after she retired she heard situations on the radio where she would have been able to reach out and help if she were at the dispatcher’s desk.

“It got to where I could hardly stand it, to hear of these situations and not be able to do anything to help,” said Binkley. “That’s when I decided to come back and get involved again.”

“You get all kinds of calls, kids, suicides,” continued Binkley. “If someone is threatening suicide, you try to talk them out of it. The main thing is to keep them talking until the law enforcement gets there. I try to think of myself as their mother and try to focus on their needs until the deputies get there.”

Rick Spoor has been a dispatcher for the Van Wert Police Department for 27 years.

“I love working with the people and helping them through bad situations,” said Spoor, who worked second shift for 20 years and is now working day shift. “It’s my job to find out where it’s at and get them going. It’s important to follow up and keep both the officers and callers safe.”

Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur and the county commissioners both issued special proclamations with extreme praise for the work of the dispatchers.

“The work of dispatchers is paramount in my heart,” said Mazur. “Every second counts as does dispensing with accuracy. They need to get people out in the shortest amount of time without any flaws. Thankfully, we have those kinds of dispatchers in Van Wert.”

Dispatcher Jim Wilcox has been working for the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office since 2002. He started four days before the devastating tornado that roared through parts of the city.

“What a way to get broken in. It was a real awakening,” said Wilcox.

Wilcox said there is no way to describe the satisfaction of knowing that someone’s life has been saved as a result of the team working together.

“We never get to see 90 percent of the people we help, but once in a while we get a chance to meet them. That is always such a thrill,” said Wilcox.

Ironically, Wilcox’s daughter, Brittany Sinn, has worked dispatch for the Ohio State Highway Patrol for three years.

She noted that her perspective is a little different because her department concentrates more on traffic stops and overseeing the officers.

“This is something I always wanted to do,” said Sinn. “I worked on the Explorer Post for the Sheriff’s Department for 10 years.”

Pam Dull worked briefly for the Sheriff’s Department and now she works fulltime for the Highway Patrol.

“I’ve always liked law enforcement; my sister is in law enforcement,” said Dull. “You know that the work you are doing is really serious business. You get services to people as fast as you can. It’s always nice to hear words of appreciation that come to you from time to time.”