Burnette takes the honors

Telecommunicator of the Year award ‘long overdue’ say colleagues

Donna Burnette was named Telecommunicator of the Year for 2007-08, at the Blount County Emergency 911 Communications Center recently – an honor 911 director Jeff Caylor said was long overdue.

“She’s been there 18 years, and she started as a dispatcher and is now a nightshift supervisor, communications training officer, a charter member of the Telecommunicators Emergency Response Team. Donna is one of those people who has always done things well,” Caylor said.

The director said he remember completing an evaluation on Burnette and telling her he wished dispatch had 10 more like her.

“She has a good presence in dispatch. Even before she was a supervisor, she had good leadership skills,” he said. “When you’ve got someone setting the pace with those abilities it make operations go better and serves as a role model for other dispatchers.”

The week of April 14-18 was National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Blount County 911 Emergency Communications annually takes a day during that week to honor those who work in dispatch helping fire, rescue, law enforcement and other first responders. The Telecommunicator of the Year is named and other people are recognized.

“We had several recognized. We had five with perfect attendance, and we do quality assurance and quality improvement on call taking and three scored a 98 or better for the entire year,” said Caylor.

Each month a training officer listens in on a third of all calls the dispatchers take and grades them on how well they follow procedure and policy.

“For the entire year of 2007, Janett Brabson and Scott Gregory both scored 98 in law enforcement and Heather Murphy scored 98 in law enforcement and medical both, which is outstanding,” Caylor said. “For every 100 calls she takes, either way she was right on the money on 98 of them. I thought that was outstanding.”

Caylor said that, as a group, the dispatchers did a great job. “We had a good year,” he said.

Another area where several people were honored was perfect attendance. Recognized for perfect attendance was Burnette, Richee Kidd, Eric Lawson, Matt Graves and David Nelson. A new system was installed in June that generates reports about the calls received. “We’ve averaged picking up the phone seven and half seconds after first ring -- emergency and non-emergency lines both -- which I thought was very impressive for dispatchers,” Caylor said. “I think it speaks very well of them.”

For 2007, the dispatchers answered roughly 262,000 calls. “It was a pretty busy year, and obviously, I was very, very proud of the job they all did.”

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