Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher William King said it's nice to get a thank you.
The 11-year dispatching veteran recently was recognized as Washington County's Telecommunicator of the Year by the Maryland Emergency Number Systems Board, an organization that coordinates the installation and enhancement of 911 emergency telephone services systems.
"It felt good. It's nice to get a thank you," King said of the award that he received last month during a ceremony in Anne Arundel County. "Half the time you're getting yelled at."
King, 36, said he started his career as a dispatcher 11 year ago, but has been involved in emergency services for twice that long.
He said he started out 22 years ago as a volunteer with Explorer Post, a program that gives 14- to 20-year olds a chance to dabble in emergency services as a possible career choice.
King said has since served as a volunteer firefighter in Hagerstown, and as an emergency medical technician in Halfway and Smithsburg. He also is the deputy chief of the Washington County Rehab Unit.
"At an early age, just getting involved with emergency services has made emergency services a big part of my life," King said.
Having processed 564 calls in August alone, King said he has handled too many emergency calls to count. But one that he remembers most involved helping a mother save her choking son by talking her through the Heimlich maneuver.
"I have a 10-year-old," he said. "Being a parent, you think how it would be if that's your son. You just concentrate on what needs to be done. Keeping yourself calm helps the caller."
King said he credits to the dispatch center's success to working together.
He recalled an incident in February when he and fellow dispatcher Bryan Stallings handled a fire in the North End of Hagerstown.
Stallings was getting information from the caller and relaying it to King, who told firefighters the location of a man who was trapped inside the burning building.
"A lot of it in here is teamwork," Stallings said. "You have to rely on the people in here with you."
King said it also helps that he and Stallings have known each other for more than two decades and often work together on the same shift.
"He and I have a very good working rapport," King said of Stallings. "All we need to do is look at each other and know what we're thinking."
King said a lot of people get frustrated and holler at him when he tries to help them over the phone. Regardless, he said he loves his job and couldn't think of doing anything else.
"I know you don't get a lot of thank yous," he said. "But it's the feeling you get when you know you've helped someone."
Editor's note: This story, a subhead and a photo caption were edited Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, to correct the name of the award received by King.