Chelsie Angleton is the new 911 director for Allen County after working at the critical response center for the past seven years.
Before that, she served in practically every other role there, including: frontline dispatcher, certified training officer, quality assurance specialist and deputy director.
As to what these different positions are responsible for, they involve everything from answering to analyzing calls, coaching dispatchers and mastering technologies.
“It’s more than answering the phone and sending help,” Angleton remarked. “But as soon as I started and made it through training, I knew that this is where I wanted my career to go.”
“I just found that dispatch was a perfect fit.”
Perhaps it’s in the genes.
Angleton’s mother also worked at the Allen County dispatch center for multiple years under the previous director.
Angleton said she thought the job would be a good fit for her “because I’ve always wanted to help people.”
The family have their roots in Humboldt. Angleton, age 27, is a mother of three. Her son Radlee is 5, and twin girls Emrie and Keely are a year and six months.
She’s set to marry her fiance, Denton Decker, in the not-too-far future, although COVID-19 has temporarily thwarted their plans.
Angleton called dispatchers the “missing link” in critical response. “Even though we’re not on-scene, we’re still making the same difference as your medical responders or law enforcement.”
“We are the first ‘first responders,’” she quipped.
As she explained, “Dispatchers are the unsung heroes. … They are talking to people on their very worst day and their very worst moment, having to make split-second decisions.”
Along these lines, she fondly recalled being thanked by an elderly man from LaHarpe for helping his wife after she’d fallen, but noted that it was three years into her career before receiving such praise from a caller.
That said, “you don’t do it because you want the publicity,” Angleton added. “You do it because you just need to.”
The job’s not for everyone, though.
As Angleton pointed out, it takes a certain kind of person to work under pressure, thrive on adrenaline, as well as have a capacity for resilience and adaptability, since “it’s never routine; it’s always something different.”
“You break down and you tremble and actually process what has happened afterwards,” Angleton said. “But you’ve got to make it through the call first.”
“That’s where a lot of people decide this job isn’t for them. … It takes a toll on you.”
That’s why being able to count on one’s peers and protecting one’s psychological health are so important for being able to serve in the profession, she said.
As for her goals in critical response moving forward, Angleton is ambitious.
“My biggest goal and my biggest vision is to make my frontline dispatchers feel appreciated and know how important they are,” she said.
And she’s set her sights on helping Allen County to become part of the Accredited Center for Excellence (ACE) for medical and fire calls. It’s a nationally-recognized program that not only promotes efficient and effective responses, but also lowers insurance rates for residents.
The future is going to demand a continued and agile response to COVID-19 from the critical response center as well, whether making sure the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available to responders, or cataloging the addresses of positive COVID-19 patients so that responders can take extra precautions while on-scene.
Angleton hopes to see the dispatch center get increasingly involved in the community, and to create opportunities for public learning.
“I want to educate the community on resources,” she said, and is considering developing a recruiting program for high schoolers to help them find their, well, “calling.”
All told, though, it’s all about providing “the best service for Allen County.”
And Angleton’s in it for the long haul.
“My plan is to retire here,” she said.
“Allen County is home. It’s always been home. And if I can maintain and improve the safety of the citizens as well as first responders that’s what I want to do.”