The executive director of the Canterbury Retirement Community in West Hartford has organized special events to thank the West Hartford emergency dispatchers, firefighters, and police officers who have responded to the community’s needs.
By Ronni Newton
Emily Weil wants everyone to know how important their contributions are to the safety and wellbeing of the residents of the Canterbury, and as part of the community’s 30th anniversary celebration, she has organized special efforts to say “thank you” to the emergency dispatchers, firefighters, and police officers who have responded to countless 911 calls and come to the aid of residents.
On Wednesday, Weil, who has been executive director of the Canterbury at 45 South Highland St. for 22 years, was at the police station, where she had arranged for Mayor Shari Cantor to read a an official proclamation naming Sept. 5, 2018 “Public Safety Dispatchers Day” in West Hartford.
The proclamation honored the town’s public safety dispatchers – the men and women who answer the 911 calls that she and other Canterbury staff have had to make over the years. Five of the 12 dispatchers were able to be present for the ceremony, that also included Assistant Chief Dan Coppinger.
Weil arranged for the proclamation through the mayor’s office, and Cantor read it aloud Wednesday afternoon. The proclamation noted that the dispatchers perform their duties with “utmost compassion, composure, and professionalism.”
“I want to thank Emily for showing her appreciation,” Cantor said. “A lot of times you are so taken for granted because you are not the face of what ultimately goes out to the resident or the visitor to save their lives but you are so critical in the process.”
“Canterbury turned 30 and I was trying to think of ways to celebrate,” Weil said. “My heart went to gratitude for the people who have helped us be so successful.”
Earlier this year, she went to the West Hartford Fire Department’s station no. 1 on Prospect Avenue, and brought them sandwiches. The dispatchers have been with her for 22 years, she said, “helping me to help the residents. I’ve called in panic so many times to get [residents] help and I just wanted to meet them and say thank you.”
To the dispatchers, Weil said, “You’re always so professional, with a hands-on, can-do attitude … unsung heroes for sure.”
Coppinger said that there are typically three dispatchers on duty at all times; a minimum of two is required. When there are major storms, extra help is brought on, with as many as five on duty staffing the phones at any one time, and West Hartford’s dispatch center works with both the fire and police departments. The new “Text to 9-1-1” also runs through the the dispatch center.
Dispatchers present on Wednesday included Todd Hungerford, Jesse Kristoff, Michele Lyons, Lauren Lanza, and Nicole Salter. West Hartford’s other dispatchers are Ted Hansen, Laura Cashman, Eric Reese, Melissa Cox, Michael Nolan, Eileen Bartlet, and Judy Morrell.
Weil said that she has also been trying to find a way to properly thank the police department, and has decided to make a binder for the department with letters from the public expressing appreciation.
“If you’ve been helped by the West Hartford Police Department, witnessed them help someone else, or would like to write ‘thank you’ or express your appreciation, please email me,” Weil said. Her email address is [email protected].
“They’re our unsung heroes and we can’t thank them enough,” said Weil. She’s hoping that the police department will be able to keep the binder in a place where officers can see it, to remind them of how they are appreciated.
Weil also plans to do something in the future to recognize and thank AMR Ambulance staff, and welcomes suggestions from the public.
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