2016 Dispatcher of the Year!
San Francisco’s 9-1-1 dispatchers selected Janet Atchan as the 2016 Dispatcher of the Year. Janet coordinated the emergency response to the shooting of San Francisco Police Officer Kevin Downs by a fleeing suspect. In addition to the award, Janet received a commendation from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
“Janet Atchan is a deeply committed and caring 9-1-1 dispatcher. When a police officer’s life was on the line she worked diligently to get him the help he needed while making sure resources were in place to keep fellow responders and the public safe,” said Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM). “We see Janet’s example every day when our talented team of dispatchers take calls or coordinate emergency resources.”
On the evening of October 14, 2016, San Francisco’s 9-1-1 dispatchers received calls from the public about a man acting erratically in the Lakeshore Plaza Shopping Center on Sloat Avenue in San Francisco. Janet Atchan was serving as a radio dispatcher at the time and it was her responsibility to maintain contact with police officers once they exited their vehicle. The officers communicated they had arrived and located the person of interest. Minutes had passed before Janet heard one of the worst things any emergency responder could hear over the radio “Officer Down, Shots Fired”. Between the officers’ arrival and the radio transmission, the suspect ran away from officers and shot at them striking Officer Downs in the head.
Janet immediately sent additional police officers and emergency medical services to assist Officer Downs. Her responsibilities included setting up a police escort for the ambulance as it made its way to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Janet then joined her partner, Dispatcher David Solis, in establishing a perimeter to contain the suspect as officers searched for the armed suspect in the surrounding neighborhoods. The suspect was apprehended after exchanging gun fire with police officers near Stern Grove in San Francisco’s Sunset District. By the time the incident ended Dispatcher Atchan had stood her post well beyond the hours of her shift.
The Dispatcher of the Year is elected by their fellow dispatchers for extraordinary performance while answering 9-1-1 calls or dispatching emergency services. Janet shares this honor with her fellow dispatchers who provide vital ongoing support, which is indispensable to the entire San Francisco dispatchers team during crucial calls.
Janet Atchan is a fourth-generation San Franciscan and was raised in San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood. She’s spent the last 25-years serving as a 9-1-1 professional. During her career, Janet earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley and her MBA from the University of San Francisco.
San Francisco receives more than 1.2 million emergency and non-emergency calls annually. 9-1-1 professionals dispatch police, fire, and medical assistance to the scene of accidents, crimes, fires, and other emergency and non-emergency situations. In addition to taking calls from the public, dispatchers act as the communications hub for emergency services and must quickly assess situations to determine the appropriate resources to dispatch, making them the San Francisco’s first, first responders.