2021 Telecommunicator of the Year – Sustained Performance – Jennifer Gildehaus

2021 Telecommunicator of the Year – Sustained Performance – Jennifer Gildehaus

Jennifer is one of our most tenured dispatchers. She has grown with the ever-changing technology the industry has undergone and adapts quickly to new policies and procedures. She has an impeccable work ethic and gives 110% each shift. 

Jennifer consistently demonstrates integrity and initiative as a dispatcher that goes above and beyond what is expected by our center. She proactively assists officers by checking local records through police stations, searching prior contact history in our CAD system, or running registered owners on license plates. She is usually one step ahead of field units and gathers pertinent information to relay to the units before they even think to ask.

During a shots fired call in one of our smaller cities, Jennifer became the unofficial point of contact for the Chief who was on vacation and unable to reach the sergeant on duty for details. While Jennifer was not the dispatcher working the incident, she was able to provide him timely updates on the status of the incident. The Chief was very appreciative of the support he received from her.

On a different occasion, Jennifer assisted another dispatcher who was working an in-progress burglary call. The dispatcher received another call with a report of multiple people being shot at a nearby grocery store and employees being held in a back room. Although Jennifer was busy with her own console, she immediately looked up the phone number and called inside the grocery store to check on the employees who reported they were fine and no crime was occurring. The shooting report was a diversion tactic by one of the burglary suspects to try to pull officers away so they could flee the burglary scene. With the quick actions of Jennifer to verify the status of the employees at the store, the officers were able to continue their mission at the burglary call.

With a clear and steady voice, Jennifer’s radio presence is refreshing and professional. She maintains a calm and reassuring tone that instills productivity and confidence from field units. From early on in her career, Jennifer has earned a high level of respect due to her excellent skills and genuine dedication to the job. It is not uncommon for a supervisor to receive kudos from the field when Jennifer is working a radio. During one incident she used automatic vehicle locator (AVL) technology to correctly identify a unit’s location after he called out on a different roadway. Field unit safety is her priority.

Jennifer easily balances radio and phone traffic and can manage multiple radio channels. While on the phone, she is professional in her verbal exchanges with, not only field units, but citizen callers. This is reflected in the consistent 100% scores on her quality assurance (QA) reports.

Regardless of her radio assignment, Jennifer is organized, a master multi-tasker, level-headed and consistently aware of the activities in the room. She assists others with phone calls, including contacting outside agencies to relay information on pursuits, requests for assistance or other miscellaneous tasks. She is often on the phone before her peers even ask for assistance. This has been recognized and documented through kudos by several of her peers in our Guardian Tracking System.  She also notifies on-duty supervisors of high priority calls for situational awareness.  No matter the task Jennifer jumps in to help wherever needed. During a snowstorm, she recognized our com room garbage cans were overflowing due to no janitorial service so she sent a message to the room to tie their bags up so she could collect them. When working a radio, she regularly answers overflow 911 calls without being told to do so, managing both the phone and radio flawlessly. When a tour of fire cadets, new police officers or medics comes through, Jennifer takes time to show them how their jobs are reflected on the other side of the radio. She routinely welcomes potential candidates to sit and observer and shows them the ins and outs of the job. She does all of this while maintaining a positive attitude; even when working a 14-hour shift!  Jennifer strives to provide the best customer service on each detail and interaction. She gives maximum effort by being proactive and ensuring field units have the necessary information to complete their job safely and efficiently. Her extensive knowledge and experience allow her to anticipate what the field units may need even before they ask for it. When working fire dispatch, Jennifer supports EMS by the timely dispatch of incidents, monitoring calls and providing updates, modifying response levels, and assisting in response coordination with partners and outsides agencies when necessary. In addition to her primary duties, she is often observed answering 911 calls during periods of high call-volumes which is critical in ensuring a prompt response to potential medical emergencies. Confident in her abilities, she utilizes the criteria based dispatch guidelines (CBD) to administer all caller questions and deliver proper emergency prearrival instructions, such as CPR, all while managing her dispatch console. As mentioned earlier, this is all reflected in the high QA scores and exceeds standards ratings she receives each year. Her excellence is also reflected in comments she received from the field. One such incident was a five patient shooting on-viewed by police. Kudos received on that incident included “Marvelous job with all that madness” and “I appreciate your awesomeness on that shooting. So calm cool and collected makes everything so much less hectic.” Jennifer was just that, calm, cool and collected which assisted the field units to respond the same.

Jennifer began her public safety career at Valley Communications almost 34 years ago and we are beyond grateful she has chosen to spend her time with us.  She maintains a strong radio presence and level of control that is respected by the field units both police and fire. Her ability to manage radio traffic and disseminate information in the quick, accurate manner she does cannot be overstated. She can work through even the highest priority incidents to a successful conclusion, demonstrating unfailing decision-making skills. Her dispatching abilities, as well as her character, are above reproach; she strives to be consistent, precise, and professional. Her integrity and dedication to provide professional service, under any circumstance, consistently exceeds expectations. There are some individuals that public safety fits like a glove and Jennifer is one of them. I wish I could clone twenty of her! She is a shining light in the com room with her exuberant energy and positive attitude. She comes to work every day devoted to the field units and the citizens; her goal is to for each of them to get what they need to have a successful outcome. As Jennifer’s supervisor, I cannot praise her enough. When she is working, she puts in 110%; even on those 14-hour shifts! If anyone deserves to be recognized as Telecommunicator of the Year for Sustained Performance, it is Jennifer Gildehaus. She has never sought personal recognition or commendations, so I am proud to nominate her for her unwavering devotion to this field

COII Jennifer Gildehaus started her public safety career at Valley Communications Center on June 10, 1988 and has been a model of reliability and consistency for the entire (almost) 34 years.

Valley Communications Center (VCC) is in Kent, Washington and serves a population of over 785,000 covering an estimated ~443 geographical square miles. We provide dispatch services for nine (9) Police Departments, one (1) Correctional Facility and thirteen (13) Fire/EMS agencies. On a daily average, VCC answers 1,900 calls. VCC’s full authorized staffing is 44 call receivers, 59 dispatchers, and 11 team supervisors, in addition to 23.5 administrative employees.

In 2021, VCC handled 460,939 911 emergency calls, with 78% of those call coming from wireless callers. Combined with the 226,248 10-digit non-emergency phone calls, Valley Communications Center took 687,187 incoming calls.

The work environment is fast paced with constant change of workloads and call priorities.

Jennifer fills the role of Communications Officer II (COII – also known as dispatcher) which responds to emergency and non-emergency calls for service by dispatching appropriate public safety resources and monitoring their status. COII’s maintain contact via phone and radio with Police/Fire/EMS agencies to ensure their status is accurately reflected and quickly respond to urgent radio transmissions. COII’s deal with sensitive information and are expected to handle it in a discreet and professional manner. COII’s also assist in the answering and handling of 911, 10-digit non-emergency lines and Text to 911 calls. Jennifer easily balances her radio duties and assists in answering incoming 911 and 10-digit calls. She obtains information from callers who may be injured, confused or abusive, and determines, which, if any, agencies should respond to the incident.