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Akron, Ohio

City of Akron Safety Communications Technicians Bring Home Award at the 2020-2021 Gold Star Awards Program

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City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Stephanie Marsh, Chief Communications Officer
Published: 05-09-2022

Akron, Ohio, May 9, 2022 — Each year, The Ohio Chapters of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, International (APCO) hold the Ohio 9-1-1 Gold Star Award Program to publicly honor the outstanding individual achievements and contributions of the men and women who are the backbone of Ohio’s 9-1-1 system. This year’s banquet combined awards for both 2020 and 2021. The City of Akron Safety Communications team won the 2020 Gold Ribbon Award and were finalists for the 2020 Double Gold Award and the 2021 Solid Gold Award.

“I commend our safety communications technicians for this outstanding accomplishment and recognition,” said Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett. “These men and women are a critical component to the work of the Akron Police Department, and we simply could not do it without them. Congratulations to all of our nominees and winners.”

The Gold Star Awards are held by Ohio APCO/NENA at the conclusion of the state convention which was held April 10-13 this year.  Agency supervisors can nominate employees in different categories.  The Double Gold Award's criteria is a joint effort by 2 dispatchers on 1 call.  The Gold Ribbon Award is a group of dispatchers who handled a large event involving several resources without any interruption to the 911 services that they provide, and the Solid Gold Award is given to a single dispatcher who handled a specific call on their own. 

Akron won the 2020 Gold Ribbon Award for the technicians’ response to a highway accident which included an exploding fuel tanker and a mass evacuation of the surrounding neighborhoods. The team, which included safety communications technicians Genau Saxon, Peggy Burns, Danielle Johnson, Marissa Rivers, Michelle Nicholson, Toni Morton, Elizabeth Johnson, Deshannon Barker, and Damita Walker, responded with calm and order to assist a host of responding agencies in dealing with the tragedy. 

“I applaud the exemplary service of our safety communications technicians, not only for this award-winning incident, but for the jobs they perform day in and day out,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Sometimes forgotten in the public eye, these technicians serve as literal first responders every time they answer the phone. They are the faceless voices of calm and empathy for residents on what might be their very worst day. It takes an incredibly special type of person to take these heart-wrenching calls every day and then go right back on the phones ready to answer the next time it rings. I congratulate them for this well-deserved recognition.” 

Akron technician Michelle Kocsis was a finalist for the 2021 Solid Gold Award for a call she took in which the caller was unable to speak and was calling from an untraceable cell phone. Over the course of 32 minutes, technician Kocsis worked with the caller by having her push buttons to answer yes or no questions until she was able to locate her in a high-rise. The caller had suffered multiple seizures which had led to the loss of speech, and had technician Kocsis not thought quickly on her feet, the outcome may have been very different.

For the 2020 Double Gold Award, technicians Elizabeth Johnson and Darlene Eisele were nominated for simultaneous calls they took in response to a shooting which left a young girl fatally wounded. One took a call from a passerby who witnessed the incident and the other took a call from the girl's mother. The technicians worked in tandem to keep the callers as calm as possible and to provide support and empathy in the face of an unimaginable tragedy.

“I am incredibly proud of the work of my safety communications technicians,” said David Laughlin, APD Captain and Director of the 9-1-1 Safety Communications Center. “The types of calls for which they were nominated might be particularly heroic, but they bring the same effort, care, knowledge, and training to each and every call they receive. We have a group of highly skilled and intelligent responders answering the phones and relaying information, so Akron residents can be confident in the event of an emergency, we will always be there, answering the call.”   

“We depend on our safety communications technicians to relay information to us quickly and accurately in order to efficiently respond to calls for service,” said Akron Fire Department Chief Clarence Tucker. “Their professionalism and skill ensure that we get to where we need to be every time a resident needs us and I’m very happy to see their efforts recognized at this level. Akron Fire is proud to work with these outstanding technicians.” 

For further information, contact:
Stephanie Marsh
Chief Communications Officer
Phone: 330-375-2754
E-mail: [email protected]

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