A 911 operator in Portland, Oregon, has been honored for their service. Winner of the “911 Dispatcher of the Year” competition for all of North America, Stephen Zipprich.
A 911 operator in Portland, Oregon, has been honored for their service. The “911 Dispatcher of the Year” award went to Stephen Zipprich, who beat off 50 other candidates throughout North America.
“Zipprich has been answering emergency calls for the city of Portland, Oregon’s Bureau of Emergency Communications for the past decade. Although BOEC’s senior dispatcher has seen many changes in systems and standards, one thing has remained constant: the person’s importance on the other end of the phone. And they are worthy of my attention and sympathy,” Zipprich added.
Zipprich was nominated as one of 51 finalists for 911 Dispatcher of the Year out of tens of thousands of dispatchers across North America because of her compassion.
Because of this, he could attend last month’s International Academies of Emergency Dispatch meeting in Denver. Regarding standards and systems for emergency dispatch, this company is at the forefront globally.
He listened to a recording of a 911 call he had taken the year before. The conference-goers heard a snippet of it. The 911 operator said, “Then I heard my voice come through the speakers, and that’s when I knew I had won, and it was very emotional.”
For a low-key person like Stephen Zipprich, this is a huge deal. “I am proud that I got it, honored that I got it. Honestly, I’m honored.” Zipprich’s accomplishment in earning the award—saving the life of a suicidal woman who was purposely overdosing but then phoned for help—is far more meaningful than the prize itself.
Zipprich took the phone, reassured the woman she was safe, and then asked questions to clarify the situation. “You have a knife– alright, is your breathing normal for you,” he asked. Zipprich, with the support of a suicide crisis counselor on the other end of the line, kept the woman alive.
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About 20 minutes passed on the call before police and paramedics took over, but at that point had already taken crucial lifesaving measures. Zipprich’s reply to the woman can be heard in the following snippet from the call:
“You said that you want me not to let you die today. And I don’t want that to happen, so I would like you to stay where you are so that help can get to you and find you.” The award is well-deserved for such an outstanding feat of achievement.
“But if I went my entire career in 911 communications and never got this, I would still be proud of the work that I do, that I get to help people every day,” Zipprich added. The dispatcher is relieved to be able to share that aspect of his job with his two young daughters.
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