They are the first of the first responders, the initial problem solvers in what emergency managers call the chain of survival. Dispatchers in Llano and Burnet counties work for their respective sheriffs, taking 911 calls, gathering information, and deciding which services should be sent where in what many times are life-or-death situations. And they do it all simultaneously within seconds of answering a call with “What is your emergency?”
“We are the central hub of it all; we coordinate and command,” said Granite Shoals resident Doni Whitecotton, communications manager for the Llano County Sheriff’s office. “We coordinate what units go to what scene and what additional resources they need.”
That could include air flight service, which entails setting up a landing spot and lining up the personnel needed to get the chopper loaded and back in the air.
“We do all that and without a visual,” Whitecotton said. “The phone and the radio are our tools.”
Not everyone is cut out for the job, said Llano County Emergency Management Coordinator Gilbert Bennett of Horseshoe Bay. He has 42 years’ experience as a firefighter and said dispatching is something he doesn’t think he could ever do.
“It takes a certain personality to be a dispatcher,” he said. “You have to maintain radio inte …