Every day, people use the phone to save lives and connect people with crucial resources. On National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, we speak with two of those people.
Deschutes County 911 receives around 1,000 calls each day, and often, it’s Joelle Klatt and Megan Happ on the other end of the line.
For Joelle, acting as a calming voice on the other line is a role she’s filled for the past 17 years, And for Megan — nine years.
“No day’s ever the same,” Megan said. “You just never know what you’re going to get when you come in and sit down with that headset on.”
- COCC hires new director of campus safety and emergency management
- Deschutes Co. Sheriff’s Office Community Academy taking applications
Car crashes, fires, heart attacks — there’s a game plan for every emergency. And they’ve covered “every single one.”
That commitment earned Joelle the Oregon Telecommunicator of the Year award for 2022 and Megan won the Oregon Trainer of the Year award.
Honors they accepted, but humbly.
“I had a beautiful nomination written for me and was selected through the state process,” Joelle said. “We’re not the heroes that, you know, swoop in and save the day that people are used to seeing.”
“Just knowing all the excellent trainers out there, it’s such an honor to have the award,” Megan added.
It’s a daily roller coaster, flip flopping between life and death situations and complaints.
“That caller with the parking complaint and the barking dog, that is their biggest problem of the day, they don’t know that we just helped with CPR on a baby,” Joelle said. “And so being able to adjust, back and forth all day long.”
Staffing levels have improved a little from a few years ago, but there are still seven vacancies they’re trying to fill.
Joelle said there used to be “hundreds” of applicants for each role when she began 17 years ago, but today there are more around 40 applicants, most of whom do not make it past background checks.
It’s around 100 calls a day each, with 12 hour shifts for 4 days.
“It’s not for everybody,” Joelle chuckled.
But for these women, it’s now a lifestyle; chance to serve their community in every circumstance.
“We learn from each other, and we push each other to be the best that we can be,” Megan said.
“We want to really raise the bar, like strive for excellence and continue the learning,” Joelle added.
If you are interested in applying for one of those open positions with Deschutes County 911, Joelle and Megan recommend coming in to the office and sitting with them for awhile to watch them in action and see if it might be a good fit for you.
You can find more information about applying for roles here.