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Bristol News

Posted on: September 25, 2019

Bristol dispatcher receives state award for saving life

A Bristol, Tennessee dispatcher has been recognized by the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security for taking measures that ultimately saved a life.

Jessica Donihe, a four-year veteran of the Bristol Tennessee Police Department, was honored during the annual First Responder Recognition Awards in Nashville on Sept. 11. The award stems from an emergency call she answered one evening in March 2018 and her persistent efforts to dispatch help.

“I received a call and knew immediately that it was an emergency call for help,” Donihe said. “It was more of a gut instinct than anything.”

Donihe said she repeatedly asked questions, but received no response. She redialed the number several times until she was able to determine a location and send help. When officers arrived, they found a female who had attempted to hang herself with a string from her sweatshirt. Donihe’s quick actions and persistence is credited with saving the woman’s life.

“Our dispatcher’s training, experience, and yes, sometimes their gut instincts guide their actions,” said Communications Manager/911 Director Crystal Key. “Jessica used all three of these that evening.” 

Donihe said dispatchers receive three months of training before they are qualified to begin answering emergency calls. Additional training is required throughout the year, she said, adding that dispatchers learn every day they are on the job.

“We continually go through extensive training and learn from experience,’’ she explained. “We feel good knowing that we’ve been able to help someone when they need it.”

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