Handling emergencies behind the scenes for 25 years

Carrie Reid (left) accepts a 25-year award from Blount County 911 Director Caleb Branch.

Carrie Reid (left) accepts a 25-year award from Blount County 911 Director Caleb Branch.

When Carrie Reid was hired as the first telecommunicator for Blount County 911 25 years ago, she did not think it would turn out to be a career for her. Reid recently received a 25-year award for her dedication and service.

Since Blount County 911 became centralized in 1993, Reid has seen many changes and feels very fortunate and blessed to have been a part of those changes. Reid, then a single parent, had worked as a dispatcher for Oneonta Police Department for seven years and at a local nursing home prior to being hired as the first Blount County 911 dispatcher.

Her decision to change employers came when the nursing home told her she would have to begin bathing men. She knew she would need to find something else, as she was not comfortable with that new assignment.

Throughout the years, dispatching has evolved from an all paper job to computers, getting calls through cell phones, using cameras, and having to utilize translators due to a diversity of languages. She also noted that when she was hired there was only one dispatcher per shift. Now there are at least three dispatchers per shift.

Reid laughed about how in the early days she would have to take a walkie talkie to the restroom so as not to miss a call. She said, “It made you not want to go to the restroom.” Luckily the other dispatchers now handle calls if someone needs to take a restroom break.

While being a dispatcher is a very stressful job, Reid loves helping people. Because she is handling emergencies behind the scenes and most of the time does not know the outcome of the situation, she is constantly doing a self-assessment to make sure she has done everything she could do to help people through their emergency. She said, “I am always checking myself and treat people like I want to be treated. I can go to sleep at night knowing I’ve done all that I could to help people in their time of need.”

Reid said she gathers strength and support from her family and church family to help her de-stress. She is married to Kip Reid. Her children are now grown and she absolutely adores her grandchildren.

Reid frequently turns to the Bible and sermons for answers to life. She said the Bible has answers for everything and hearing the sermons speaks volumes to her. She attends Hanceville Church of Christ.

Although Reid handles numerous emergency calls on a daily basis, she said that one call still rings strongly in her mind. The call involved a person with a gun trying to break into a home.

The frightened caller was inside the home, and rightfully so, appeared to be having extreme anxiety. She kept reassuring the caller that a deputy was enroute, but was concerned the caller might lose consciousness. The caller was the only “eyes and ears” to the dangerous situation. An officer soon arrived, the situation was resolved, and Reid was relieved.

A Facebook post about Reid’s award has generated many kind comments and gratitude for a job well done. Reid, who is not on social media, but is aware of the post said, “I want to thank everyone for so many nice comments and support. I am truly blessed.”