JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An emergency dispatcher with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department received top honors on Friday.
JFRD dispatcher Alonda Oates was recognized nationally for helping save a woman trapped in a house fire. Oates has been named the 2022 National Telecommunicator of the Year by APCO International -- the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals.
Oates was first recognized by the City of Jacksonville back in January -- and all of these accolades are for how Oates handled the call that day.
Related: Curry announces new JFRD position dedicated to addressing fire safety, prevention
On Jan. 24, 2022, Oates received a call from a woman trapped in a bathroom on the second floor of a house on West 13th Street. Oates remained on the phone for 10 minutes after the woman called 911. Her reassuring words and direction during this emergency saved the woman’s life.
“All I could do was offer her comfort, and just give her instructions,” Oates said.
When firefighters arrived at the home Oates said she could hear them trying to find her.
“Try to stay calm... You can do it -- hang in there,” you can hear Oates tell the woman during the 911 call.
She guided them to where the woman was. The female victim, her boyfriend, and his aunt all made it out of the burning house alive.
“Without Alonda’s compassion, keen sense of awareness, and quick thinking, firefighters would have certainly missed the tiny area where the victim had taken refuge,” Fire Chief Keith Powers said. “Had it not been for the actions of Alonda, this successful rescue would have had a tragically different outcome!”
Great job, Alonda!