SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Township Council recognized three dispatch employees for extraordinary actions assisting Sparta residents in distress. Dispatchers Michael Schill III and Maribeth Hills were publicly thanked at the April 24 meeting, during 9-1-1 Education month. Helen Morgan student Patrick Dunn was also recognition for his action using 911.
Acting Chief Neil Spidaletto first brought Schill and Hills to the front of the room. He introduced the two with some information about their job.
“Sparta dispatch receives 9500 emergency calls a year and thousands more non emergency calls for five towns,” Spidaletto said.
The township is now next generation 911 compliant which will allow for text, video or photo contacts to be used to request assistance.
“When the state systems are updated, Sparta is ready for the change,” Spidaletto said. “More important than the technology is the personnel that know our operations and our community.
“It’s no easy job, getting high stress life dependent calls. The information obtained is paramount, critical because it could save the life of the caller, patient, victim or first responder.
“Even when everything is done properly it may not end the way they want but they are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. These are special individuals that do what they do.”
Dispatch Coordinator Jan Right and Spidaletto went on to describe a call that took place at 7:10 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning when “the rest of us are preparing for our holiday.” The caller said his girlfriend was unresponsive. Shill gave CPR instructions and gathered information while Hill was organizing the first responders. The victim was “very lucky to have those two on the desk.”
When paramedics responded, they had to give her two shocks from the defibrillator and take her to Morristown hospital by helicopter.
Spidaletto next invited Dunn and his family to the front of the room. The Chief said on April 13 10-year-old Dunn had gotten off the bus after school and began to walk home when he saw smoke coming from a nearby home.
“He used his cell phone to call 911 and calmly reported the fire with the exact location,” Spidaletto said. “Listening to the 911 recording he was calm and absolutely prevented the house from being a total structural loss.”
Police and fire responded and were able to get the fire under control and rescue two dogs inside the home.
“What you did was brave and commendable,” Spidaletto said. “You saved the house and the animals.”
Mayor Gil Gibbs and Spidaletto presented each with a proclamation and gifts.