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By Cele Gilbert
Do you ever wonder who the person is behind emergency calls to 911? All we know about them is their voice, which is why National Public Safety Telecommunications Week (NPSTW), observed every second week in April, has been set aside to recognize and celebrate the work of telecommunicators helping to save millions of lives every day. National Public Safety Telecommunications Week was founded to honor the telecommunication personnel dedicating their lives to public safety. It was a local initiative that was initially set up in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of Contra Costa County, California, which later went on to become a nationwide, week-long event. So, throughout this week, we honor and thank those invisible telecommunicators who have continued to serve in this demanding profession.
We’d like to share a little information as to what is required of each person that is hired to become a Dispatcher for Shelby County. Initially you have to take an hour-long exam of various questions as well as filling out an application for employment. You must clear a background check that includes fingerprinting to check for any flags to deny employment and access sensitive personal information. Then Sheriff Arron Fredrickson and E-911 Director Lori Miles make a joint decision to offer the candidate a position, whether it’s full or part-time.
Once you accept the position you will be required to complete the following:
• 40-hour Telecommunication Course
• 24-hour EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatch) Course
• 24-hour Law Dispatch Course
• 40-hour MULES (Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System) Course
• NIMS (National Incident Management System) Course
• Red Cross CPR Certification Course
• 2 ½ to 3 months of supervised hands-on training in the Shelby County Telecommunications Center
• Every Dispatcher is required to complete yearly CEU (Continuing Education Units)
Other duties each shift (there are 3-8 hour shifts, 2 dispatchers per shift) are expected to perform are: dispatching out and keeping track of EMS, Law and Fire on calls; taking and logging all non-emergency calls; entering warrants, protection orders and other documents into the MULES system; preparing meals for inmates; doing laundry for inmates; general housekeeping duties; etc.
But their No. 1 job…is to make sure that everyone, whether it’s Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMS personnel or private citizens, all get home safely.
“We have a great group of men and women who take this job very seriously. It takes a special person to do this job and they all work together as a team to help the caller who is having one of the worst days of their lives.
“No one calls us to celebrate something, they call because they need help and that’s what we are here for and trained to do,” said Director Miles.
We’ll start the week of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week by recognizing the E-911 Director, Lori Miles. Originally, Miles began her career as a full-time dispatcher in 2006. In 2012, she left to take the same position for Macon County 911, eventually coming back to Shelby County in 2013. In 2019, Mary Lu McConnell retired after 20 years as Director and Miles took over as head of the office. Lori and her husband, Jerry currently live in Bethel. They have three children: Amber, Austin (Hannah) and Dustin (Paige); three grandchildren: Carson-4, Haven-21 months and Hallie-5 months. Lori enjoys riding the motorcycle with Jerry, camping, puzzles and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
We will now recognize Administrative Assistant to Sheriff Arron Fredrickson, Leslie Goings. She began her career at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in 2001 as a dispatcher and has seen several changes at the helm during her tenure. For the past three years, Goings has held the position of office administrator. In this position, she is in charge of the Sex Offender Registry records that keeps registered sex offenders in compliance, completes the necessary Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) paperwork required by the FBI, and keeping track of anyone incarcerated in our facility and paperwork for anyone arrested on a warrant. Leslie lives on a farm near Emden with her fiancé, Jim. She has two children Justin (Shelby) who resides in Nixa and Brittany who lives in Wentzville. Leslie likes to spend time with her children when she can and in her spare time likes working in her garden.
For over half her life, Kristina lived just two blocks from the county courthouse. Never did she realize, one day she would be helping people through her position as a dispatcher in that very same courthouse. She joined the dispatch family in 2020, as a full-time dispatcher. Kristina lives in Shelbyville with her two daughters, Emma-7 and Leah-5 along with their German Shepard-Havoc and their Quaker Parrot named Sunshine. Kristina enjoys spending time with her daughters and her mother, Deborah, sewing, baking and homeschooling her girls.
Chelsie ‘the baby’ of our dispatch family, is our latest hire, hence the nickname. Since January, she has been completing the necessary requirements and began her full-time position the 1st of April, working the overnight shift on the E-911 side of the dispatch center. Chelsie is married to Tyler and they live in Shelbyville. She enjoys spending time with him and their two ‘fur’ babies, Charlie and Colby, who are both Standard Poodles and binge watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Mike is a part-time dispatcher. He started with E-911 in 2017 and left for a short while to work at the Macon Police Department as a dispatcher in 2019. Mike returned to Shelby County in 2020. He lives in Macon. He loves to play video games as a hobby.
As one of our three male dispatchers in a center full of females, Peter brings to the table a former military background serving from 2010-2014 in the Air Force. He joined our center as a full-time dispatcher in 2017. Peter lives in Shelbina with his wife, Jacque, and four children, Dominic-9, Holly-8, Vanessa-7 and Natalee-3. He enjoys dabbling in restoring antique furniture and spending time with his family.
As a full-time dispatcher, Cele is referred to as “seasoned,” but she still has her wits about her enough to multitask through whatever emergency comes across her desk/headphones. She is also known to be a great cook, providing a meal for whoever is in the dispatch center when she’s on shift. Gilbert joined our dispatch family in 2012, following a 32 year career in the newspaper business. She is the mother of three children: Faith (Bill) Johnston, Jenni (Jeff) Rash and Bryan Gilbert who all live in Shelbina; a grandmother to three, Montana (Nikki) Schoonover of Pickering, Mady and Masen Rash of Shelbina; as well as a great-grandmother to Rawlins-2½ and Riggins-7 months. Her favorite thing to do in her off time is going on excursions with her granddaughter, Mady who is always ready to go somewhere. Her biggest passion is supporting Father Dandi’s Philippines mission work and encouraging others to do the same.
When Stacy moved to Shelby County from Wentzville three years ago, never did she dream she would become a dispatcher. She actually came into the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to attain her CCW information. Deputy Fredrickson asked her if she was looking for a job….the rest is history. She became a full-time dispatcher in 2019. In 2021, she accepted the position of Assistant E-911 Director. Stacy and her husband, Terry, live outside of Emden. They have two children: son, Shawn (Reanne) and a daughter, Alicia. They also have three grandchildren: Jayden-8, Asher-4, Khalil-2 with baby, Althea, due in May. She loves to paint and sketch, garden and spends as much time with the grand babies as possible. She and Terry ride their Harley as often as weather permits.
Charlene is part-time and joined us in 2019. She works for the South Shelby Elementary School as a Special Education teacher. Charlene has three boys, Charlie (Breanne) who lives in Kansas City, David who resides in Shelbina and Lance who lives in Nebraska. Charlene has three grandkids, Maverick-4 and Everett- 1 ½. Charlene loves spending time with her grandsons in Kansas City and loves to craft, sewing and cooking in her spare time. She loves to walk her Boxer babies, Belle and Bendi Jo.
Hope works part-time and has been with our dispatch family since 2019. She also works at North Shelby as a paraprofessional in the elementary building. Hope is married to Kenton and they live south of Shelbyville with their two ‘fur’ babies, Skittles and Augie. Hope helps Kenton with farm work and she enjoys participating in sports in her spare time.
Tiffany was hired in 2021 and works part-time. When not dispatching, Tiffany works with her husband, Alex and father, Paul Ratliff on the farm. She is also a firefighter for the Clarence Fire Department, as well as, a First Responder for the county. She and Alex live with their two daughters, Brooklynn-11 and Braylee-6 in Clarence. Tiffany enjoys crafting and antiquing.
Sutton started in 2018 as a part-time dispatcher. In 2019, he took a full-time dispatch position and became the Terminal Agency Coordinator (TAC). As the TAC officer, he ensures the MULES system is kept secure, validated and operated by trained, competent personnel. Prior to moving to Shelby County, Lew was in the U.S. Air Force for 29 years, retiring as a Chief Master Sergeant. He lives in Shelbina and has two sons, Ryan, who lives in Shelbina and Tristan (Shayna), who live in Columbia. He has three grandchildren: Tyler-10, Samantha-7 and Simon-5. Lew’s hobbies are baking, home renovation work and spending time with his grandchildren.
Leslie has lived her entire life in Shelby County and was hired in 2019 and is a part-time dispatcher. She works as a full-time dispatcher for Macon Electric Cooperative. You may also see Leslie working at the Fest Hall in Bethel or the Shelby County Mercantile in Shelbina on her days off. Leslie is the mom to two sons, Colby who lives in Washington, D.C. and Joshua who lives in Shelbyville. Leslie’s hobbies include working, because it allows her to spend time with her friends, eating out with friends and visiting with people, because she loves to talk.
Tami has been with us since 2009 as a part-time dispatcher. She is a full-time teacher at North Central Regional School in the Moberly School District, where she teaches 6th-8th grade History, English, Language Arts and Eplox. Tami lives in Shelbina with her husband, Randy and two sons, Joseph and Zachary. She enjoys reading, puzzles and playing cards.