Dispatcher honored for cool head, grace in tough situations

by Tony Reaves Sun Journal Dec 16, 2010

PARIS — Being an emergency dispatcher isn't for the faint of heart. Far beyond summoning first responders to crimes and accidents, dispatchers talk people through some of the most difficult situations of their lives.

Dispatcher Jack honored
Candice Jack of Oxford accepts a plaque Dec. 15, 2010 for her recent work as a dispatcher at the Oxford County Regional Communications Center in Paris. Center Director James Miclon, center, recognized Jack for her handling of a recent domestic violence call. Looking on is Oxford County Commissioner Caldwell Jackson.

Candice Jack of Oxford recently found a caller in such a situation. A dispatcher at the Oxford County Regional Communications Center, Jack received a call from a victim of a domestic assault in progress, according to communications center Director James Miclon.

“She was on there for 45 minutes,” Miclon said. She convinced the victim to get away from her attacker and into a car to wait for responders to arrive. Miclon said the victim's father was a former director of the police dispatch center in Los Angeles, and called Jack's work “one of the best jobs he'd seen in his 35 years as a director.”

Miclon said that's what convinced him to single out Jack for recognition. At Tuesday's meeting of the Oxford County Commission, he called Jack to the meeting room and presented her with a plaque recognizing her service.

“In the public safety business, you don't get a lot of  'attaboys,'” Miclon said, but after reviewing her call history, he felt it was due. The communications center doesn't regularly give out awards.

“This is the culmination of a year of hard work on her part,” he said.

Jack, a mother of six children, has taken more than 1,600 calls this year, Miclon said. In November, when an 8-year-old boy was run over by an unoccupied truck, Jack convinced his upset parents to let her talk to the boy on the phone to calm him down as responders raced to the scene.

Jack blushed at the ceremony. “I'm just a dispatcher,” she said. “Everyone over there needs to get recognition,” she said, referring to the communications center.

A lot of tough 911 calls come in, Miclon said. “It seems Candy gets a lot of them.”