DEM Honors San Francisco’s Dispatcher of the Year: Kayleigh Hillcoat
Have you ever wondered who is on the other end of the line when you call 9-1-1? In the advent of an emergency you call 9-1-1 hoping to ultimately reach fire fighters or police officers, but who coordinates with those entities? Who guides them? Who advises them on the situation, and who helps to keep our officers and fire fighters safe in potentially chaotic instances? Dispatchers are the unsung heroes of our emergency response infrastructure. Last week was National Public Safety Dispatcher Week and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management celebrated all of our fantastic and talented team of dispatchers. DEM also recognized San Francisco Dispatcher of the Year, Kayleigh Hillcoat.
“Teamwork is vital and I’m proud to work with a team of skilled and compassionate individuals who strive to do their best for our public safety partners and the citizens we serve every day. We put our personal emotions aside and pull through intense, difficult situations together.
The incidents mentioned by Supervisor Mar are no different. I may have been a voice in the chaos, but I was backed by my co-workers helping to log and forward critical information, make calls, notify our allied agencies of crucial updates and dispatching fire and medical response along the way.” Kayleigh remarked during her Recognition of Commendation.
Usually Dispatcher of the Year is recognized for one incident however, Kayleigh is being awarded for commanding three high profile incidents this year. Kayleigh assisted the San Francisco Police Department during an incident that involved a potential officer down, throughout spontaneous celebrations the evening that the San Francisco Giant’s won the World Series, and during public demonstrations in Union Square related to the Ferguson, Missouri protests.
When asked what her favorite part of her job was, Kayleigh responded “[It’s] challenging, there is something different every day, I appreciate being able to directly make a difference in someone’s day or life depending on what the call is about.” She also enjoys the fact that she provides a service to the public, in addition to assisting our fire fighters and police officers.
What most people are not immediately aware of are the difficult parts of the job. Kayleigh shared, “the lack of closure after the call ends can be hard. There isn’t a lot of follow-up on how the emergency was handled or what happened to the caller.” Sometimes dispatchers interact with callers facing grave circumstances; this is a burden all dispatchers carry.
However, Kayleigh has found a wonderful way to deal with some of the more difficult parts of her job by volunteering her time at San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control (AC&C) where she volunteers with the Fetch Program. The Fetch Program is dedicated to dogs brought into the custody of AC&C due to the fact that the owner may be in the hospital, jailed, or evicted. These dogs are often emotionally stressed after being separated from their owners and the comfort of their homes, that’s where Kayleigh steps in. Kayleigh finds solace that she can help in some way post-call by being on the receiving end of displaced animals due to emergencies.
This September Kayleigh will mark her 10th year as a DEM Dispatcher. Congratulations Kayleigh for a job consistently well done and DEM is proud to honor you for your vital contributions to public safety.