911 dispatchers say good bye to the community

We are now entering the transition phase, where your local 9-1-1 fire service is being transferred

To the Editor:

We are now entering the transition phase, where your local 9-1-1 fire service is being transferred up to Kelowna.  Before we are lost in the muddle, we want to say it has been a pleasure working with the fire departments in the Southern Interior – Penticton, Summerland, Naramata,  Kaleden, Okanagan Falls, Penticton Indian Band, Oliver, Osoyoos, Willowbrook, Anarchist Mtn,  Keremeos, Hedley, Princeton, Tulameen/Coalmont, and the Apex Fire Brigade.

You’ve made us feel like we are part of your family, and that will be the hardest part of losing our jobs.  To the agencies that we have worked so closely with – RCMP, ambulance, forestry, SAR,  and Fortis/Terasen, it’s been a team effort. To our fellow city co-workers and regional district employees whom we have watched over and woken up in the middle of the night, we appreciate the hard work that you do. Thank you.

To work in “public service” means just that – we have tried our very best to provide the best in customer service to those that pay our wages – you.  All of us chose to work in emergency services as a career. Along with our choice, came our families (who really had no say).  They have made a lot of sacrifices over the years and we have missed out on family holidays/celebrations, grad/awards ceremonies – moments that you can never get back.  You might not think that is a big deal, but when you work in our field and hear and see what we have, family is everything! So, a big thank you to our families.

We worked 24/7, 365 days a year, serving our community with minimal technology.    Our dispatch center is the only one in Canada that still uses paper and pen. We have learned to fly by the seat of our pants, when in the middle of huge weather events, everything has failed. We have worked together as a team and a family.  Most of what we know is tucked away in those little gray cells.  Unfortunately, most of that knowledge will be leaving with us.  Sadly, none of your local dispatchers will be working in Kelowna.

We’ve had good days and bad, listened to you in the middle of forest fires, evacuations, plane crashes, fires, explosions, and burns.  Heard some funny ones, some that were so weird, you couldn’t make them up if you tried.  But in saying this, we always tried to treat you like family; the way we would hope one of our family members would be treated in an emergency.  We’ve been right here, in your community, going through it all with you.

We are proud of the service we have provided to our community over the past 20 years and will miss everyone we worked with. Our careers in Emergency Services are coming to an end. It’s been a difficult past few months; but we are proud that we have and will, continue to provide you with the same professional service until the plug is pulled at midnight on December 31, 2011.

Sincerely, Dawne Young, Karen Henderson, Lanette Lamoure, Al Stark, Emergency Fire Dispatchers/Regional Fire Dispatch, Penticton