MATCOM dispatchers

Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle honors MATCOM dispatchers Justin Shoemake and Renee Jensen for providing quick action and appropriate instruction in CPR during a critical moment that ultimately saved a child’s life June 22.

WASILLA — Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle honored MATCOM dispatchers Justin Shoemake and Renee Jensen for providing quick action and appropriate instruction in CPR during a critical moment that ultimately saved a child’s life June 22.

“It’s definitely an injection of positivity in an extremely stressful work environment,” Matcom Communication manager Jacob Butcher said.

Butcher said that he didn’t have many specifics of the incident, but he knew that a juvenile was choking on a food item. Jensen took the call and provided medical protocol instructions for pre-arrival care while Shomake dispatched emergency medical services and fire crews.

“Being recognized is always nice, and I would like to recognize all of Matcom because our dispatch center is a true team effort,” Shoemake stated in a follow up email. “Being a dispatcher to me is an honor to work with and help keep all of our officers and responders safe while providing quality service to my community.”

Butcher said those in the responding EMS crew are the ones who recommend the dispatchers for the Dispatch Lifesaver Award, one of two awards the city uses to honor local dispatchers and call takers. The other award is called the Stork Pin award and recognizes dispatchers who help deliver babies during a 911 call while medical crew make their way there.

Butcher said the awards are incident based, so they are handed out throughout the year. He said they always aim to hold ceremonies after notable efforts during the nearest city council meeting. He said the awards are a good moral boost not only for the dispatchers and call takers but also for the center itself.

“We definitely have an efficient and cooperative teamwork approach to public safety response and 911 call processing,” Butcher said. "We have a great collaborative system set up."

Butcher took a moment to point out that dispatchers are not currently recognized as first responders in the State of Alaska, something he fervently believes should be changed as soon as possible. Right now they’re technically classified as “administrative or clerical.”

“In my opinion, it really is the frontline. Call takers and dispatch really are the grease behind the wheels that keep the machine running,” Butcher said. “They’re the ones who deserve the recognition.”

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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