(Dodge) It is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and the Dodge County Sheriff’s office is recognizing the trained professionals who provide lifesaving assistance to area residents and emergency responders around the clock. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Dodge County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center. Dale Marks has been a part of dispatch for 48 of those years. Marks recently shared stories with us about Dodge County’s first dispatcher, Red Beneditz.
Red was hired in the early 40’s by the sheriff’s office to install radio equipment in squad cars. Red also set up the county’s first dispatch office within the sheriff’s home which at that time was attached to the county jail. It was in 1944 that Red Beneditz became the county’s first dispatcher.
Marks, who is retiring this year, described the challenges that dispatchers faced. He says it was not uncommon back then to investigate overnight accidents the next day. Marks says that sometimes officers would just happen to come across accidents with injured or, in some cases, deceased still trapped inside.
Pete Kaczmarski has seen many advancements in technology during his over 30 years in the dispatch center. Something as simple as running a license plate once required a hardcopy book that required annual updates. That evolved into microfiche before eventually being replaced with the computers and digital databases used today. He says the computer systems with the state were unreliable and they had to look up plates using the microfiche system, utilizing a complicated system of letters, numbers, and symbols in order to run a plate successfully.
Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt says the job is not for everyone and requires the ability to communicate and multitask while remaining professional. Schmidt says the dedicated men and women of dispatch are the unsung heroes answering 911 and non-emergency calls, paging responders, setting off tornado sirens, and responding to text 911 while providing support, compassion, and empathy on the other end of the phone. Strong multi-tasking skills can help prevent mistakes, and he says mistakes can lead to a public safety, or officer safety issue, which could mean somebody’s life.