Working as an emergency dispatcher requires a large skill set, and multitasking sits at the top of the list as one of the most helpful and essential for handling intense situations every day.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation Police Department dispatcher Joan Nevin knows that well after taking thousands of phone calls throughout her more than 10-year career. In October 2022, the Oklahoma Public Safety Conference named her the state’s 2022 Telecommunicator of the Year at its annual event.
The award recognizes “a 911 call handled exceptionally by a 911 telecommunicator,” according to the OKPSC website.
“(Winning the award) is and was an honor. I just did what I had to do in an unfortunate situation,” Nevin said.
The organization held the event at the Marriott Tulsa Southern Hills hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“We just had dinner, and they presented awards for different things. There are agencies from all over Oklahoma — people from agencies, dispatchers. So, it was really cool,” she said.
CPNPD Major Lee Minick nominated Nevin for the award, recognizing her ability to remain calm and think quickly on her feet while helping citizens on what is often the worst day of their lives.
Nevin enjoys assisting community members, and CPNPD’s jurisdiction covers all of Pottawatomie County. The department became the dispatch for 26 agencies throughout the county in 2018, all except the City of Shawnee. Nevin worked for CPN during the transition period, which she called “a big learning curve.”
“It involves a lot of multi-tasking as quickly as we can. It is a mentally taxing job,” she said.
During her shift, she sits in front of seven computer monitors and four keyboards. The police department dispatches for fire departments and city and tribal law enforcement units. They take calls ranging from grass fires to domestic disturbances.
“It is always something different. No two days are the same,” Nevin said.
“Usually when something happens, it’s a multitude of things all happening at once. So, you just have to be able to try and keep it all straight. It gets hectic. It gets crazy.”
Nevin began dispatching for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Police Department in 2013. Previously, she worked as an emergency medical technician after attending EMT training in the 1980s. She recently returned to school to reinstate her license. Her mother was also an EMT, and Nevin enjoys being prepared for any medical situation.
“It’s just good to have behind you,” she said. “You can never have too much knowledge.”
The Telecommunicator of the Year Award is the most prestigious commendation Nevin has received during her time as both an EMT and a dispatcher.
“I’ve done some (medical) pursuits where I’ve gotten some, but nothing to this magnitude,” she said.
Nevin appreciates the recognition, and her focus remains on each caller on the other end of the line, moment to moment.
She plans to continue dispatching after completing her EMT training.
Find out more about the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Police Department at cpn.news/police.