Dispatchers recognized for fighting fire in DJ's office |
Thursday, August 16, 2012
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
It was a typical day at the Clearfield 911 Center in Lawrence Township on the evening of Aug. 3 as shifts were changing. Marc Hatten and Todd Howe, both firefighters, were handing over their headphones to their relief when a 911 call was received.
The call was for a fire at 300 Leonard St. in Lawrence Township.
"We recognized the address," Hatten said. "So we spun the camera around mounted on the tower and zoomed in."
The fire was at the office of Magisterial District Judge Richard Ireland, located behind the 911 center. The mulch was on fire and the fire was working up the front of the building to the roof.
"I said ‘lets go see what we can do,'" Howe said.
"We grabbed an extinguisher and ran out the door to the fire," Hatten said of his and Howe's actions.
They fought the fire with just one extinguisher until Lawrence Township Station No. 5 arrived on scene.
The fire damaged a window, which cracked and started burning into the roof, when the men stopped it. Lawrence Township firefighters then made sure the fire did not extend further into the roof and that all hot spots were out.
Dispatcher Jeff Arnold, also a firefighter, paged the fire was out, as he was relieving Howe and Hatten that evening.
Firefighters from Lawrence Township Station No. 5 were on scene about 20 minutes. There were no reported injuries. Clearfield Emergency Medical Services was also on scene. Hyde, Glen Richey, Clearfield Borough, Bigler-Jackson-Woodland and Rescue Hose and Ladder Co. of Curwensville were called to the fire, which is standard for structure fires, but they were all canceled en route.
The camera they used rotates 360 degrees and sits on top of the 911 tower. Several times, the workers have been able to zoom in on incidents around the center, but this time they didn't only zoom in, but they also swung in to action.
Hatten, who has worked as a dispatcher for about eight years, is a firefighter and emergency medical technician with Rescue Hose and Ladder Co. of Curwensville while Howe, having worked at the center for 10 years, runs with Morris Township, Winburne and Grassflat fire companies.
Howe said as a chief when responding to the scene, it always seems to take fire apparatus a while to arrive, but he also realizes the process involved and that the firefighters have to get to the station before they can respond.
The dispatchers handle hundreds of 911 calls a day, and 911 coordinator Deb Archer said today, dispatchers are known as the "first first responders," because they are much more involved than in the past.
"Nowadays the dispatchers try to give tips to the caller to help with an emergency while another dispatcher is paging the call," Archer said. "If there's a fire we make sure they get out of the building as quickly as possible. Don't take anything with you, just get out."
She said they offer help for providing CPR or how to control bleeding, they keep someone on the line if they need the police and they do other things to protect the people who call as well as they can.