When there is a crime or accident, the operator on the other end of the 911 phone is often the first to hear of it.
The voice they hear is that of a dispatcher, who is in charge of assessing the situation and sending first responders to the scene.
He or she needs to possess the ability to remain calm in the face of adversity, even when it’s life-threatening, yet also operate at a speed not typical for a desk job.
In Waxahachie, that person may be Sue Clark, the inaugural Ellis County Hero in the field of safety. The title was awarded to an unsung individual who goes beyond the call of duty to make Ellis County safer.
“It’s like a big dance,” lead dispatcher Lindsey Sims said.
Clark is compassionate, good-hearted and always the first person to help, Sims said. She noted that many times Clark stays on the phone longer than most, always ensuring the person who called is calm and knows help is on the way.
Sims was Clark’s partner for years and learned a lot from her. They worked closely and were able to work a major incident without having to speak. It was natural, Sims said.
Clark cares about people more than anyone Sims has seen, she added.
Sims remembers a time when an older woman had fallen in the middle of the night and was there for several hours before getting to a phone. Clark took the call and stayed on the phone reassuring the woman that help was coming. She wanted to make sure the woman knew she was safe and everything was going to be okay, Sims said.
It’s not just for those in distress either. For Detective Derrick Young, he felt at peace with Sims on duty when he was a patrolling officer.
“When she was working, I felt more at ease,” Young said.
He worked with Clark his first day on the job about eight years ago and he frequently worked the same shift as her. He now works as a detective and hasn’t worked directly with her in some time.
Clark is the type of person to recognize a tone change in voice and make quick decisions based on how the officer is speaking. She just knows when to send more police from the tone of our voice, Young noted.
He said he felt confident when Clark was on the other end of the radio that she was doing everything in her power to help the situation.
Young said he has heard calls where the person is frantic and Clark is the calm voice they need to hear.
“She’s a wonderful asset to the whole city of Waxahachie,” he added.
The police on the streets love it when Clark is working, said Police Chief Wade Goolsby, who nominated Clark.
Clark is the lead dispatcher and trains new dispatchers how to do the high-demand job and keep people calm.
A dispatcher is critical to the city, and many times they are the forgotten heroes, Goolsby added. They don’t get enough credit.
It’s hard to see that she is going above and beyond because she does it every day, he said about Clark.
“She’s the calm in the storm,” he said.
Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty