‘Rookie’ dispatchers save lives while experiencing first tornado on the job

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CHICKASHA, Okla. – When natural disasters strike, they are the heroes you rarely see.

A trio of relatively new dispatchers were on duty for some of Mother Nature’s most violent, unpredictable days.

“There are a lot of people that depend on you,” said Alisa Voegell, a dispatcher.

On May 6, these dispatchers spent 10 to 15 hours fielding calls from terrified storm victims.

“I took a call from a woman had come up on a car that was washing down a creek. and I could hear the people in the car screaming for help,” Voegell said.

Their duty is to get first responders to dozens of disaster scenes across Grady County as quickly and safely as possible.

“That was hectic and crazy. It was scary, but we all did so great for it being our first tornado,” said Cori Rennaker, a dispatcher.

May 6 was their first natural disaster on the job.

Despite the tornado outbreak and widespread flooding here, there were no deaths and very few injuries.

That’s remarkable considering the magnitude of the severe and unpredictable weather.

They say they received a little bit of help from the 4Warn Storm Team.

“I think we re-routed the guys two, three, four times. So, I was 4warning the guys!” said Rennaker.

There is no doubt these dispatchers were a life line on May 6.

They were recently awarded commendations for their actions under pressure.

“I believe you saved lives, including a deputy when his car was flooded in a quickly rising stream,” said Sheriff Jim Weir, with the Grady County Sheriff’s Office.

They all agree that they hope they never have to work another natural disaster.

But folks in Grady County can rest assured, these dispatchers are the calm in any storm.

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