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Employee Spotlight: National Public Safety Telecommunications Week - Kristen Forkner

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week is April 9-15, and Buncombe County is celebrating by profiling some of our 911 dispatch team. The demands of Public Safety Telecommunications make it a challenging and rewarding job. Being the first, first responder takes a special type of person, and Buncombe County is proud to highlight some of our amazing 911 staff in their own words. Thanks to all our Public Safety Telecommunicators for your dedication to helping keep our community safe.

Interested in joining the County’s Public Safety Telecommunications Team? Click here for more information.

Name: Kristen Forkner

Position: David Squad Communications Supervisor

Years as a Public Safety Telecommunicator: 7 years (8 years in October) as a Law Dispatcher in NC. Four Years as an EMS dispatcher in CA.

What made you want to become a Public Safety Telecommunicator? I have always wanted to be in a career that would help others and while living in CA I got the opportunity to work in EMS dispatch and found that it was something I enjoyed. When I thought about moving to NC, I found work in Law Dispatching and found that Law Dispatch is what I love.  

What is your favorite part of the job?
Working the radio on the law side, it’s like a puzzle trying to keep track of who to dispatch to what call and knowing that I have earned the trust of my squad over the years.

What is a misconception of your job?
That we are just a “secretary.” The amount of work that goes into this job to keep both the public and our respective crews (Law, Fire, and EMS) safe and up to date on information is a skill that not everyone has. The number of times a day we need to have “split ear” listen to the crew your working with and give directions and call notes as well as listening to someone on a phone line while giving instructions and what is going on in this room all at one time is not something just a “secretary” does. It’s a highly tuned skill.

What would you like the public to know about your job?
While we are asking questions that doesn’t mean that help is not on the way. Someone else in the room can be assisting us getting the help started. With that being said, we are also not the one physically responding. A lot of people think that because we answer the phone, we are also the one responding and don’t want to answer the questions we have to ask to get help started. I would also like the public to know that if you can’t tell us much due to a dangerous situation then at least give the call taker the address (as clearly as possible) because if we don’t know the address, we may not be able to find you -- it’s not like on the TV shows. If you are able to, tell us a little about what is going on including if there are any weapons involved. 

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Updated Apr 18, 2023 12:47 PM
Published Apr 10, 2023 07:00 AM