Smith is Emergency Communicator of the Year

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Chief Sandra Smith proudly displays the 2014 Emergency Communicator of the Year Award. Looking on left to right are Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, President of NYSSA; Sheriff Gary Maha, of Genesee County, chair of Executive Committee; and Sheriff Ron Spike of Yates County, who nominated Smith for the award.

Provided/The Chronicle-Express

Chief Dispatcher Sandra Smith of the Yates County Sheriff’s Office has been named the 2014 Emergency Communicator Award. Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike nominated Chief Smith for the award.

The Emergency Communicators Award was established by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute to honor emergency communicators who have exhibited an exceptional degree of dedication and commitment to the professional fulfillment of the difficult duties of the Sheriff’s Office in operating an emergency communications center.

Smith began her career 25 years ago as part-time dispatcher, becoming full time two years later. Ten years later, she was promoted to senior dispatcher, and one year later to chief dispatcher.  The chief dispatcher supervises the Yates County 911 Center, which is a single PSAP (public safety answering point) for all the county’s police, fire, EMS and first responders.

Spike says, “Through her leadership, effort and training, she has coordinated the development of policy and procedures for the Yates County 911 Center and the center’s professional accreditation recognition in 2006 and reaccreditation in 2011.”

In 2011, Chief Smith and three other Yates County dispatchers were given a Sheriff’s Commendation for handling the calls from a horrific mass casualty accident on a county road, involving a large farm spray tractor, a passenger van and a car, where 16 people were injured, including six Amish who died at the scene.  “The synergy that existed in the 911 communications center for coordinating multiple Sheriff’s deputies and police, 15 ambulances, five helicopters, 11 fire departments, three wreckers, and many other agencies required to deal with the incident was outstanding,” said Spike.

The on-scene Fire Chief incident commander would later proclaim the work done by the emergency dispatchers was “rock solid.”

Chief Smith is a 911 accreditation assessor for the New York State Sheriffs’ Association. She has played a key role in the professionalization and policy development of 911 centers across the State of New York.