East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 11, 2017, Page Page 8A, Image 8

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    Page 8A
East Oregonian
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
DISPATCH: Calls involving children one of the toughest parts of the job
Continued from 1A
Milton-Freewater and the Confed-
erated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian
Reservation, the sheriff’s office
dispatches emergency response for
the entire county, a total of 25 public
safety agencies.
Dispatchers spend several weeks
training at the police academy, and
return for three days of emergency
medical dispatch training, where
they learn skills such as how to
instruct someone about how to
administer CPR. Before they start
taking calls, dispatch trainees
will run through many practice
There are lots of specialized
trainings as well, including how to
deal with calls specific to veterans,
or how to handle mental health
situations. Dispatchers also have
to be trained on how to use LEDS,
or the Law Enforcement Database
System. Through that system,
dispatchers can map calls, and can
enter warrants, runaways and stolen
property, among other things.
A minimum of three dispatchers
staff the station at any time. They
work as a team, assisting if one
dispatcher is dealing with a more
serious situation.
The job has changed over the
years, according to Primmer and Lt.
Kathy Lieuallen, both of whom have
been dispatchers with the county for
more than 20 years. But according
to Primmer and Lieuallen, the qual-
ities of a good dispatcher remain the
same: patience, empathy and a cool
head in a crisis. They also have to
be adaptable and able to multi-task.
“We’re doing at least three to four
things at the same time, efficiently,”
Primmer said.
The dispatchers
Umatilla County has 16
dispatchers and is hiring another.
Many of the current group have
“People call 911 on their worst days. That’s what
we listen to all night. We try to be the point of light
on the worst day of their lives.”
— Eva Van Beek, dispatcher for Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office
been at the job for several years, and
have came to the job from a variety
of backgrounds.
Van Beek, who has been with
city/county dispatch since 2014, was
a paramedic for years before injuring
her knee and coming to work on
the other end of the line. Tabetha
Koehler, who has at the job for
about three and a half years, worked
as an opthalmic technician and was
looking at an EMS program, before
coming across the job and deciding
she liked it. Kerri Roberts worked
with the county juvenile department
before becoming a dispatcher.
Dealing with daily crises can
take an emotional toll, which can be
made worse by the lack of closure to
any of them.
“You don’t get the resolution,”
said Roberts, who has worked at the
county as a dispatcher since 2010.
“You hear the start of something,
but you don’t get the resolution.
That’s the part of our job that’s
really frustrating, that can send you
home crying sometimes.”
Many agree that taking calls
involving children is the most
emotionally challenging aspect of
the job.
“Whether a kid can’t wake a
parent up, or a kid is home alone
and someone’s breaking in, or a
mom’s screaming that her baby’s
not breathing,” Van Beek said.
“Nobody’s going to tell you a kid
call didn’t affect them.”
Though the dispatchers receive
training, there are many aspects they
can’t prepare for.
“My first day was over-
whelming,” Roberts said. “We speak
in “10” codes. It feels like gibberish.
You have to look at the screen and
give an officer information in an
instant. I remember looking at the
scene and going, ‘There’s no way.’”
Koehler said she didn’t expect
the number of people that call in
on a regular basis: non-emergency
calls from people with mental health
issues who need to be calmed down.
She said they also handle a lot of
angry and difficult people.
“I’ve been surprised by how
rude or upset people can get with
someone they’re not face-to-face
with,” she said. “We screen a lot of
what happens for the officers and
emergency crews.”
Koehler added that while the
job is emotionally challenging, the
adrenaline can become normal for
dispatchers, as well.
“It is that roller-coaster feeling
most of the time, and you learn to
crave that,” she said. “That’s the
twisted aspect — we like it busy,
we like to be challenged. But it does
take a toll.”
Russell said he tries to put things
in perspective.
“I didn’t cause the situation.
Somebody has to be there to help,
and that person is me,” he said.
Koehler said she finds solace in
her spiritual background. Many also
turn to each other when they need
“If there’s something that’s really
bothering us, it’s important we talk
about it,” said Nicole Kellas, who
has been with the job for nearly nine
years. “We talk with coworkers,
supervisors, the ambulance crew on
scene. Anyone to give us an outlook
on what happened. I need to be
confident I did the best job I could.”
The county also offers coun-
seling and debriefing services for its
Recent issues
The dispatch center has been the
subject of plenty of recent debate.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry
Rowan proposed earlier this year
to hire another dispatcher, which
would have brought the total
number of staff to 18. Several
agencies opposed the idea of paying
for another dispatch operator. The
average annual salary and benefits
for a county dispatcher is around
In 2016, Hermiston’s city council
voted to contract with Umatilla
County for dispatch services. The
city and county had combined
services since 2014, but for years
were unable to agree on a formula
for how much cities should pay for
dispatch services.
Hermiston will pay $303,487
this year for emergency dispatch.
Last year, the sheriff’s department
had cities and agencies increase the
amount they paid to the dispatch
center. The increase had an outsized
impact in smaller operations, like
Pilot Rock and Stanfield.
Some agencies said they weren’t
opposed to staff increases to deal
with the workload, but that they
weren’t satisfied with the service
they’d been receiving.
Earlier this year, Rowan also said
he couldn’t promise there would not
be more increases in dispatch costs.
In a crisis
Around 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday,
the center gets a call from a family
in Hermiston: They can’t find their
toddler son.
The dispatchers immediately
spring to action, with each of the six
dispatchers on duty doing different
tasks: some calling emergency
responders, some trying to locate the
area on the map to see any potential
hazards (like bodies of water) and
Primmer on the phone with the
family member who is reporting the
missing child.
“You’re doing really well,” she
says calmly. She continues to ask
questions about the child: “When
did he go missing? Is it possible
another family member has him?
Does he like to wander off? Have
you checked everywhere in the
house?” She notes that sometimes
in cases like this, toddlers are found
hiding in laundry rooms, or have
fallen asleep in odd parts of the
As Primmer keeps the family
member on the phone, and reassures
them, other dispatchers call up
marine deputies. There is a body of
water near the house, and they want
to be prepared to go search.
Then, as quickly as the search
began, Primmer calls out that the
boy has been found, and things
settle down again — until the next
call comes in.
dispatchers agree the job has a lot of
“You get to deal with true,
panicked emergencies,” Koehler
said. “Those are the rewarding
parts of it. You got a person out of
a fire, you helped them resuscitate
Roberts recalls times that she has
been in the room when babies are
born, or when a dispatcher helps a
caller that was anxious or having a
“You calm them down, you smile
a little bit,” she said.
“People call 911 on their worst
days,” Van Beek said. “That’s what
we listen to all night. We try to be
the point of light on the worst day of
their lives.”
Defense rests in Nevada Bundy trial
LIVE WIRE: ‘I was bedazzled by
name as Eric from Idaho, not to take another step.
and he was still holding
the richness of the arts in Pendleton’
the AK-47 style rifle and attorney, Jess Marchese,
Associated Press
Continued from 1A
presents an opportunity he is
eager to try out. While Live
Wire is no stranger to going
on the road, it’s usually to
larger urban areas. Other
road shows on Live Wire’s
current slate include Seattle
and Minneapolis.
Pendleton was recom-
mended by Portland artist
Molly Cliff Hilts, a member
of Live Wire’s resource
In an email Monday, Hilts
wrote that her recommenda-
tion was inspired by her own
trip to Pendleton last June.
A printmaking workshop
at Crow’s Shadow Institute
for the Arts was Hilts’ first
time in Pendleton outside
of Round-Up week and she
spent her time patronizing
Pendleton’s Farmers Market,
Prodigal Son Brewery & Pub
and Sundown Bar & Grill.
Hilts later attended a
concert from Pendleton
band Misty Mouth when she
began thinking of ways to
highlight the 25th anniver-
sary of Crow’s Shadow and
was struck with the idea to
stage a Live Wire show in
“I was bedazzled by
the richness of the arts in
Pendleton, from the music
to the Pendleton Arts Center,
the Tamastslikt Cultural
Center to Umatilla’s Crow’s
Shadow, to all the makers,
and the blending of eastern
Oregon cowboy and Native
American culture,” she
Hilts is approaching
the weekend like a “mini
Round-Up” and has invited
people from Portland, Seattle
and San Francisco to attend
the show.
Burbank said there’s
advantages to broadcasting
their show from a small town.
Burbank said he plans
to immerse himself in
Pendleton before the show,
something much harder to do
in a large city, so that he can
give the broadcast audience
a clearer picture of what
Pendleton is about.
“People know the blan-
kets and the Round-Up, but
they don’t know Pendleton,”
he said.
said Pendleton still has a
story to tell that much of the
nation is unfamiliar with,
as opposed to larger metro
areas like Los Angeles and
San Francisco that have been
heavily documented.
Doors will open for the
Live Wire broadcast at the
Slick Fork Saloon at 6:15
p.m. while the show starts
at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be
purchased at livewireradio.
merctickets.com and the
broadcast can be heard on
Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Contact Antonio Sierra at
or 541-966-0836.
ROADKILL: Another bill to curtail urban
deer populations is also moving forward
Continued from 1A
the bill before the Senate
Environment and Natural
expressing concern that
people might shoot a deer or
elk first and then strike it with
their vehicle, in order to pass
it off as a humane killing.
They pointed out there are
five roadkill poaching cases
ongoing in Washington since
the program was established.
Hansell said there is no
way to make the bill 100
percent poacher-proof, and
the good of the program
outweighs the potential for
“Providing the ability to
salvage the meat would be
able to add just a little bit of
a positive result to a negative
experience,” he said.
If passed, SB 372 would
available no later than Jan.
1, 2019. The bill would
sunset on Jan. 1, 2024.
Senate Bill 373
Another bill sponsored
by Hansell and Barreto that
attempts to curtail urban deer
populations is also moving
forward in the Legislature.
Senate Bill 373 would
create a pilot program where
cities could petition ODFW
to euthanize deer “that
constitute a public nuisance”
within city limits.
The program would be
voluntary, Hansell said.
First, a city would need to
pass an ordinance declaring
a nuisance urban deer popu-
lation. The city would also
need to have local laws that
prohibit feeding or luring
wildlife into town.
“If the deer are there
because they’re getting a
handout, obviously they’re
going to stay there,” he said.
The city would foot the
bill to kill the animals, while
retaining the antlers and
hides. The meat would go to
the Oregon Food Bank. The
program would specifically
prohibit killing deer by dart
or lethal injection.
The program, which
would be crafted by the
Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Commission, must also
contain provisions that the
number of deer that are
killed “do not exceed the
number necessary to be
taken to reduce the deer
population to a level that no
longer constitutes a public
Hansell said the idea
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started with Dennis Sands,
the mayor of Joseph, who
pointed out the high number
of deer in the city. And
though Joseph residents ulti-
mately rejected the proposal,
Hansell said the League of
Oregon Cities has indicated
the program could be used
by other communities state-
“(The League of Oregon
Cities) was very clear, this is
a bill they support,” Hansell
said. “I think it’s a win-win,
if this is something the cities
want to pursue. If they do
not, then they don’t have to.”
SB 373 also passed the
Senate on April 6 by a vote
28-1 vote, and has a sunset
date of Jan. 1, 2029. Sen.
Fred Girod (R-Stayton) was
the only nay. Sen. Winters
was excused.
Both bills are now in the
House for consideration.
Contact George Plaven
at gplaven@eastoregonian.
com or 541-966-0825.
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An Idaho man whose photo
as an armed protester in
Nevada was seen around
the world was the only
one of six defendants to
testify before the defenses
rested Monday in the first
trial stemming from a
2014 standoff involving
cattleman and states’ rights
advocate Cliven Bundy.
Eric Parker was asked
during cross-examination
about his Facebook post
during the confrontation
saying that protesters
planned to free Bundy
cattle “by any means.”
He was also asked about
his comments after the
standoff ended in an inter-
view recorded by a man
with cellphone video on
a freeway overpass near
“You said this could
have potentially turned
violent?” prosecutor Nich-
olas Dickinson asked.
In the video, he gave his
wearing his ballistic vest
with two spare clips of
bullets for his handgun.
Minutes earlier, flag-
waving riders on horseback
and more than 100 unarmed
protesters including women
and children faced off with
about 30 heavily armed
federal agents near a gate
of a corral in a dry riverbed
Parker, now 33, was
prone on the pavement,
looking with his rifle
through a seam in a
concrete freeway barrier
toward the federal agents in
the U-shaped wash below.
The crowd demanded
the release of cows rounded
up in the Gold Butte area
about 80 miles northeast of
Las Vegas.
remembered the wind
carrying the words “lethal
force,” “will be shot,”
amid muffled warnings
from loudspeakers used by
agents to warn protesters
questioning how Parker
interpreted calls by Cliven
Bundy for a “range war”
to stop federal agents from
confiscating his cattle.
“Did you want to start a
shooting war?” Marchese
of Arizona,
Richard Lovelien of Okla-
homa, Idaho residents Todd
Engel, Scott Drexler and
Steven Stewart told Chief
U.S. District Judge Gloria
Navarro they decided not to
The judge gave both
sides until Tuesday to
prepare for closing argu-
ments Wednesday in the
trial that opened Feb. 9.
Defense attorneys are
expected to argue the
government didn’t prove
conspiracy, weapon, assault
on a federal agent and
other charges that could,
combined, get each up to
101 years in federal prison.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Hermiston Conference Center
5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Our Annual Meeting theme
“Reaching New Heights” is a recognition of
the milestones reached over the last 80 years
and what we expect in 2017.
As always, attendance is free to UEC members.
We hope you will join us!
Featured Speaker
Bob Welch, of Eugene
a celebrated author,
will highlight Umatilla
Electric’s 2017
Annual Meeting!