Benton County dispatcher was a calm in the storm - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton County dispatcher was a calm in the storm

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BENTON COUNTY, WA - During the storm, there was at least one area of calm: the Benton County dispatchers who worked nonstop to make sure emergency crews got where they were needed the most.

Reporter Mackenzie Allen had the opportunity to chat with one of the dispatchers to get an idea of what was going on behind the scenes.

Lead 911 Dispatcher Jenny Buchanan admitted that calm was actually the opposite of what she was feeling last night.

"All of a sudden we could hear lightning and thunder and the storm just hit and the phones lit up and we just kind of went off running," she explained. "It was really, really busy, busier than I've ever seen."

And coming from Buchanan, that's saying something. She's been handling emergencies for 25 years.

"There really was no stopping between toning," she said. "Just toning each call out and trying to keep up, trying to prioritize each call was more important than the next one, and to just keep going, you didn't really get to take a breath."

She says that was the biggest challenge; making sure each call was prioritized correctly.

"Residential structure fire was definitely priority one, natural cover fires are priorities, anything involving an actual fire, someone can see the fire we had to dispatch that immediately, we had some people call and say a tree looked like it might fall we had to unfortunately hold on to that one while I got the other calls dispatched first." 

It's something she says wouldn't have been possible without a great team around her, providing a calm in the storm.

"Everybody in that room pitched in and without everybody in that room there's no way we could have done it. I had a lot of help and everyone had their own radios to do and their own calls to handle."

The big takeaway from this is that whenever there is a major storm or other natural disaster, please understand that dispatch is going to be very busy and they will get to your emergency as soon as possible, but depending on the call they might need to send a crew to another emergency first.

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