The Washington State Chapter of APCO (Association of Public Safety Communication Officials) and NENA (National Emergency Number Association) has named the Klickitat County communications officers as the recipient of the “2017 Team of the Year Award” for Washington State.
This award recognizes the emergency communication team that handled an unforeseen or unusually challenging situation causing each nominee to handle additional responsibilities in addition to their regularly assigned duties. The team used uncommon methods to problem solve, teamwork to create a solution, and together were instrumental in making a difference in the outcome of the event.
The recognized team of Klickitat County Communications Officers were nominated for the exceptional efforts they each displayed during the industrial fire that occurred in the early morning hours on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, at the Underwood Fruit & Warehouse Co. on the west end of the town of Bingen.
With usually only two communications officers working at any one time, any call out of the ordinary can take a toll on resources. The morning of the Underwood Fruit Fire was no exception. The initial 9-1-1 call came in shortly before shift change so fortunately there were about to be four communications operators in the room (2 going off shift and 2 coming on shift).
The initial 9-1-1 call was received from a tug-boat operator on the Columbia River advising of “visible flames” and the call was quickly dispatched to the Bingen and White Salmon Fire Departments and Fire District 3. Very quickly it became evident that this was going to be a large fire because of the location and the many potential hazards.
The two communications officers that were getting off shift stayed plugged in and the other two communications officers quickly plugged into the other available consoles and began helping.
There was no question that the two going off shift would stay and help – that’s what you do in a small communications center – help your team and don’t let them down.
The call load and other assigned duties are usually enough to keep two people working steadily throughout the shift. Add in something major and it can take a toll.
These communications officers can roll with it. They have high standards for themselves for handling the day to day so add in a major incident and their standards get ramped up.
Klickitat County Department of Emergency Management congratulates the award-winning team of Filiberto Ontiveros, Nicole Vincent, Vicky Ramsay, Pam Schilling, Shirley Chapple, and Melina Geary.
The “Team of the Year” award will be presented during the Awards Ceremony and Banquet being held at the Washington State APCO-NENA 9-1-1 MegaForum at the 3 Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick, on Wednesday, Oct. 10.