The Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) 911 Communications/Security Center, also known as the DES Dispatch Center, is always open as it maintains operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
A public safety dispatcher’s duties include providing emergency police, fire, and medical services to the public by answering emergency 911 calls and responding with appropriate personnel and equipment.
Brandie Stello, lead public safety dispatcher at the Fort McCoy center, said each dispatcher has an important responsibility when receiving calls to the center.
“Each dispatcher is responsible for caller interrogation to determine the problem and the nature of the call,” Stello said. “Dispatchers prioritize all incoming emergency and non-emergency calls, identify the nature of emergency and the level of response required, and they provide this and any additional information to the responding units.”
Dispatchers use a variety of emergency communications and electronic equipment to complete their duties. This includes equipment that is commonly used by police, fire, ambulance, rescue, or hazardous materials units.
“We also continuously monitor the installation’s alarmed facilities, which are linked to our dispatch site,” Stello said. “We have to determine causes of an alarm, type of facility, and initiate action in accordance with procedures set for that type of facility.”
Dispatchers can also provide emergency medical dispatching assistance to callers with medical emergencies.
“We verify the location (and) call-back number for the incident and then determine the patient’s chief complaint, age, and status of consciousness and breathing,” Stello said. “Caller information may indicate that the patient is unconscious and not breathing, and then we initiate an immediate, appropriate emergency response.
“A caller may be instructed, over the phone, on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the Heimlich maneuver, emergency childbirth, opening an airway, or controlling bleeding,” Stello said. “We maintain continuous telephone contact with caller, when appropriate, during emergency situations and give instructions regarding what to do, and what not to do, prior to the arrival of an ambulance.”
Aaron Demarte, a DES public safety dispatcher, said he enjoys his duties at the center.
“Working as a 911 dispatcher has been very rewarding to me,” Demarte said. “Getting people the help that they need has been challenging at times, but also knowing that you can help save someone’s life can be very rewarding.
“I love coming to work every day and really enjoy it here at Fort McCoy, especially with my fellow dispatchers,” he said. “In my opinion, this dispatch section is the best I have experienced throughout my 20-year career in both law enforcement and dispatching.”
The center was especially busy when the pandemic hit Fort McCoy in 2020, Stello said.
“With our job, it is impossible to telework,” Stello said. “We are essential to the safety of all personnel on the installation. … The pandemic has changed how we respond to calls and what questions to ask. For example, we ask many COVID-19-related questions.”
Demarte said he believes every dispatcher adapted well to the changes to operations the pandemic brought.
“One example of changes was getting used to routinely taking my body temperature and other preventive measures before stepping into the dispatch center,” Demarte said. “Another example was not knowing what the future was going to bring to our section if someone was to get infected. Our leadership then came up with a detailed plan on how we would respond, which relieved some stress from our dispatch center.”
Fort McCoy DES includes not only the dispatch personnel but also the Fort McCoy Police Department as well as the Fort McCoy Fire Department.
Fort McCoy was established in 1909 and its motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”
Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.