911 dispatcher getting the spotlight in Collier County

Reporter: Jennifer Morejon Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Collier dispatch center

These normally unsung heroes during emergencies are getting the spotlight this week. These are the dispatchers on the other side of 911 calls who play a vital role in saving lives.

You might remember when Collier County deputies got on scene just in time to save a maintenance worker who’d been trapped by a lawnmower last May.

Lucia Garcia-Ribeyro says she’ll never forget. But in the next breath said that wouldn’t have been possible without a great team working together to save a life.

From the moment you dial 911 to the moment first responders arrive, every second counts. Lucia Garcia-Ribeyro is a dispatcher in Collier County. “Every day is different. So exciting, we get everything. It’s just a roller ​coaster. Up and down. You never have the same day twice,” Garcia-Ribeyro said.

After teaching high school for 18 years, Garcia-Ribeyro felt like she needed a change. So, a friend suggested she look into becoming a dispatcher. Now, she’s three years into answering calls for help.

“Well there was one big one of a guy that we saved, he was ​driving a lawnmower,” said Garcia-Ribeyro.

Last May, Garcia-Ribeyro got a frantic 911 call. “A guy and a tractor went into the lake and there’s no way I can get him out I’m too old,” you can hear in the call.

Neighbors called it in after a maintenance worker who was mowing grass on an incline tripped over and landed in the water. The lawnmower landed on top of him. He was pinned down for about 10 minutes.

So, WINK News reporter Jennifer Morejon asked, “How does it feel to knowing you played a vital role in the rescue?”

“It’s exciting but I’ll tell you do have to remember it’s a little part in a huge team,” Garcia-Ribeyro said.

It was a little part that went a very long way. She said the most challenging part about the job is trying to keep the caller calm. “We’re pretty much trained for almost everything that you get but, of course, there’s always that one that you don’t expect,” said Garcia-Ribeyro.

Collier County gets about a thousand calls per day.

And, like others, Collier is looking to hire. If you’re interested in applying, you can do so by going on the website.

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