Local dispatchers look back on decade of work

Published 7:38 pm Wednesday, August 22, 2018

LANETT — A person has to enjoy their career to stay in the same place for a decade. Chambers County has a pair of dispatchers that have done just that, both of whom have seen and done a lot in that time.

The two are Anna Ewoldt and Kelli McDonald and together they have nearly 20 combined years of experience in the job. McDonald has spent all that time with Chambers, but Ewoldt started as a Valley dispatcher before the city consolidated with the county five years ago.

“I like it,” said Ewoldt. “It’s never dull and I never know what’s going to happen.”

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This sentiment is shared by McDonald. “Any job that you’ve been in for 10 years must be doing something right,” she said.

The duo work 12-hour shifts that starts with checking with the previous crew to see what happened before they start taking calls.

“We process over 200 calls in a 24-hour period,” McDonald said.

Ewoldt added that their office acts as a sort-of call center for the county, getting everything from calls about turned off utilities and park rangers to accidents and crimes.

“We’re also the after-hours service,” McDonald said, noting the number of calls that come in at night and on weekends. “There are some days where we have back-to-back calls.”

When asked to recall a few memorable calls, Ewoldt remembered listening to a woman giving CPR to her husband and McDonald said she once had to listen as a woman was hit by a train.

“I once helped talk a woman through the delivery of her child,” McDonald said of a 2010 incident, noting she was glad for her Emergency Medical Dispatch training.

“There are some days you just need a break,” Ewoldt said.

McDonald added, “You have to like it [the job] to do it for so long.”

When not answering calls, both dispatchers have ways of relieving some of the stress the job brings. Ewoldt is known for cooking during some of the slower moments.

“Last time it was spaghetti,” she said, noting that their setup in the office allows them to get back to their desks quickly if the volume of calls increases. “If it gets busy, I can stop and get to my desk.”

For McDonald, playing phone games and reading horror books are her preferred methods of relaxing.

Outside the office, the pair also enjoys spending time with their respective families. McDonald has her husband, John, and 7-year-old son Johnny. Ewoldt, has her husband, Chris; son, Chris Bryan; and daughter, DeLane Williams.

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