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Emergency Services News

Behind the Scenes: Buncombe's Hidden Heroes Provide a Calm Voice During Chaos


You might not realize it because there is rarely a hiccup, but a sophisticated team of highly trained professionals are keeping Buncombe County’s emergency response traffic moving smoothly. Our telecommunicators are responsible for coordinating with more than 35 County, municipal, campus, federal, and other emergency response organizations. In fact, the 911 Center handles every emergency and non-emergency call for the entire County.

In 2018, County telecommunicators handled more than 422,000 calls. “Buncombe County’s 911 Telecommunicators are held to high standards by the state of North Carolina. They answer all 911 calls within 10 seconds 95 percent of the time. That is 5 percent over the state requirement,” says Emergency Services 911 Manager Chuck Robinson.

It’s a demanding, high-pressure job that is 24-7, 365 days a year; so it requires a special kind of person. “Our telecommunicators answer multiple phone lines that are all coming in at the same time, so it can get very noisy. They work long hours and are often short-handed,” explains Emergency Services 911 Manager Brooke Hazlett. “They are able to thrive in this environment due to an ability to manage chaos in a consistent and professional manner through teamwork, dedication, and a culture of service to the public.”

April 14-20 is National Telecommunicators Week and we couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication of our team. “911 telecommunicators are the unseen heroes of emergency services. They play a critical role in emergency response. They are the first point of contact for citizens when they need help,” says Hazlett.

The mission statement for Buncombe County 911 states: “By answering 911 and nonemergency calls in a prompt, efficient, and professional manner and dispatching appropriate responders in a timely fashion, we help save lives, protect property, and assist citizens in their time of need.” And Hazlett says the team “lives up to that mission each and every day.”

So why take on such a high-stress, high-stakes job? Here’s what some of our telecommunicators say about that.

Dylan Dicus:

“It’s different every single day on every single call. At the end of the day, you can leave feeling like you have helped somebody.”

Blaire Slider:

“I enjoy being a public servant that is behind the scenes. It’s a great work atmosphere. We all work together.”

Luke Wilson:

“I enjoy helping people when they need it the most. I like the environment and how everything is unified, and we all work together.”

Scott Donati:

“I like helping people, and I love working for Buncombe County.”

Buncombe County cannot express enough gratitude and appreciation for our telecommunicators. If you would like to thank our team, please consider sending a card or letter to:

Buncombe County 911
164 Erwin Hills Rd
Asheville, NC 28806

Did you know?

Buncombe County’s 911 Center dispatches for all of the following:

Buncombe EMS, Buncombe County Fire Departments, Asheville Fire Department, Buncombe Rescue Squad, Medic Transport, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, Woodfin Police Department, Weaverville Police Department, Buncombe County DWI Task Force, Buncombe County Anti-Crime Task Force, and the NC Arboretum Police Department. The 911 Center also provides support services for Montreat Campus Police Department, Biltmore Company Police, UNCA Campus Police Department, United States Forest Service, and the VA Medical Center Police Department.