Darryl E. Moss
Deputy Communications Director
Officer of Mayor Domenic J. Sarno
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno to Recognize the City of Springfield Dispatch Department for Outstanding Service during Citywide Emergencies
June 6, 2013 Springfield, MA - The Springfield 911 Emergency Police/Fire dispatchers are being honored at Springfield City Hall today at 10:30AM for their role in handling emergency situations over the past two years.
This year, the City of Springfield’s Dispatch Department was honored by The State 911 Department during its 4th Annual 911 Honors Awards Ceremony at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA., Specifically, the dispatchers from both Police and Fire divisions who were working when the Tornado struck and/or for the Gas Explosion that took place.
"Answering the 911 calls during people's most frightening times is probably one of the most important jobs that I think that there is in public safety," said Springfield Dispatch Center Director Melissa Nazzaro.
At approximately 4:30PM on June 1, 2011 a strong EF3 Tornado touched down in Springfield. Earlier in the day , due to National Weather Service Tornado and high wind warnings, the Dispatchers had been asked to secure down any items in their break area which was located outside because primary 911 communications were being handled in the State’s Mobile Public Safety Access Point (PSAP). The City was days away from completing a six-week renovation to its primary PSAP in the Police Department Headquarters, so the call takers and dispatching staff from the Dispatch Department Police Division were being housed temporarily in trailers in the buildings’ western most parking lot. As the funnel cloud appeared in the sky, that parking lot appeared to be in the direct path of the tornado. Luckily for the department, at the last second, the tornados made a nearly 90 degree turn, avoiding the area all together.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated “Whether it has been answering the 911 calls or dealing with natural and man-made disasters, I am very proud of these professionals as they are the initial contact for those in need and must decipher many a times lifesaving information in a cool, calm, and direct fashion. The award received by the Springfield Dispatch is a well-deserved award. Congratulations to our 911 Department””
The center is also being recognized for their response to the Natural Gas Explosion.
"It was kind of scary when it went off, the whole room felt like somebody was shaking my chair actually and I turned around to look to see if anyone was actually behind me and then the flood of calls just started coming in," said Springfield Dispatcher Cassandra Godrey.
The City struggled for weeks following this event, with major infrastructure damage, power loss, impassable streets, private and public building destruction, etc. Many of the Dispatch Department employees suffered their own personal losses in this tragedy, as well as being faced with the daily reminder of the City’s devastation while working in the 911 center during the post-tornado weeks.
The following Dispatchers (both primary PSAP at Police HQ and secondary PSAP at Fire Alarm) were working that fateful shift, and deserve recognition for their efforts and composure that day:
Amanda Provost (PD)
Chris Roberts (PD)
Dove Anna Frierson (PD)
Charles Kaercher (PD)
Kaira Owens (PD)
Joyce Buchanan (PD)
Cidney Davis (PD)
Penny McCarthy (FD)
Anita Paquin (FD)