AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Five 9-1-1 operators have been awarded by the Amarillo Police Department for going above and beyond during the winter storm last month.
Some staff members left their families to spend the night at the Amarillo Emergency Communications Center to make sure they could be there when the calls came.
Many slept on cots around the building and another member who commutes from Tulia, paid for four nights at a nearby hotel to make sure she would make it to work.
9-1-1 operators are the first line of defense for police, firemen, and paramedics.
In Amarillo, they also handle all the weather-related calls that come with the territory. But, this winter storm was the first that caused them to call their workplace, home.
“I was prepared to stay here for a couple of days. So, I came back up here and stayed and slept on a cot in the training room which wasn’t the best,” said Shonaci Rains, 911 operator and dispatcher for the Amarillo Emergency Communications Center “We didn’t know that the light had a sensor, so every time we stretched, turn over, or move, the light would come on while we were sleeping so I didn’t get much sleep.”
She says during harsh weather events, their phone volume doubles and this was no exception
Rains says they had 23 pd calls pending for wrecks and even supervisors stepping in to answer calls.
“It did become my home but I didn’t want to do it for anyone else. I wanted to do it for my people here, my citizens, this is what i am supposed to be doing and I was here to answer that call if they called,” said Rain “I always tell people when they call 911 it is because it is the worse day of their live. There is something going on that they need us for, so to be able to be that voice for them and that person to help them is incredible.”
The assistant chief of police says they haven’t given awards for weather events but with their efforts, it was only right.
“They are just so dedicated, they wanted to make sure that they were going to have enough staff to help answer the calls from the citizens and support the officers out on the streets,” said Ken Funtek, assistant chief of police “So, we just feel like they really went above and beyond and we wanted to recognize them for their dedication to their community.”
He also adds, they are currently hiring for this team.