CAMP HUMPHREYS, SOUTH KOREA-- A Camp Humphreys Fire and Emergency Department employee was recently named the 2018 Army Dispatcher of the Year, for her active role in saving lives every day.
"911, what's your emergency?" -- Is a question Kim, Hye-un asks many times every day. Her training collectiveness and calm responses enables her to reassure the caller that help is on the way.
Although firefighters and military police often get acknowledged for their service on the emergency site, Kim, who plays a vital role behind the scenes, is being recognized as the Army's 2018 Fire and Emergency Services Dispatcher of the Year.
U.S. Army Installation Management Command Headquarters in San Antonio, selected Kim of over 82 nominations, for her excellence in compliance with the Department of Defense, Army, and local protocol dispatcher standards. Her team-work, quick decision making skills and multi-tasking, coupled with her education, training and certifications, distinguished her from the rest.
Kim has served as an emergency services dispatcher at Humphreys for nine years, but has served for a total of 19 years in Korea.
Her success also contributed in knowing how to manage stresses during critical times and having her emergency medical dispatcher certification current.
"The job of a 911 Emergency Dispatcher can be very stressful," said Dan Clark, USAG Humphreys deputy fire chief. "As firefighters, we can physically break down a door if we have to when we need to save someone. Our dispatchers are placed behind a phone and cannot physically help a person.
"If someone is calling and their baby can't breathe, our dispatchers are able to walk them through the steps of performing CPR, that is why it is so beneficial they are emergency medical dispatcher certified."
When a dispatcher receives a call, they have 60 seconds to answer the phone, gather key information from the person in distress, input it into the computer, determine where to send help, and alert the appropriate fire station for the response. In 2018, Kim answered a large portion of the department's 2,677 emergency call, and processed more than 99 percent of her calls in 60 seconds or less.
She shared that her position, although stressful at times, is rewarding.
"One of the most difficult times I remember as a dispatcher, was walking into work as a serious emergency call was in progress and I had to take over," Kim said, as she was facing her six computer monitors.
"The person was unresponsive and I had to take over the call as the fire team was administering CPR, while simultaneously dealing with a fire alarm at another location.
"We didn't know if the person would make it. The first and second attempt to revive him using the defibrillator was not working, however, the third attempt worked. He is doing well now and is present today," said Kim.
She also noted, the importance of knowing your location before you make emergency calls.
"Currently, one of the biggest challenges we face as dispatchers is when callers do not know where they are when they call," Kim said. "I know its difficult sometimes here in Korea but it takes longer to send help if they don't know where to go-- every minute counts. To prevent this from happening, we advise everyone to pay attention to their surroundings in the case of an emergency."
Kim's bilingual skills are also a huge benefit for her fielding emergency calls here at Humphreys.
She receives call from the local Korean dispatch center. When Americans call the Korean emergency number, they are transferred to the Humphreys dispatch team, where Kim usually takes the calls.
"In order to save precious time, English speaking people should call Camp Humphreys 911 Dispatch Center at 031-690-7911," added Kim.
Humphreys Fire and Emergency Services is expected to exceed the volume of emergency incidents in 2019, due to the increase in population.