“9-1-1 where’s your emergency,” asks Gail Towner when answering the phone at Naperville Dispatch.
“A lot of people don’t understand what we do- that we’re actually kind of the first responders and we’re the one that they call first and in charge of getting them the help they need,” said Gail.
Since 1978, Gail has worked for the City of Naperville as an Emergency Telecommunicator. On her last shift ever taking calls, Gail reminisced about her first years on the job.
“We worked in a room about the size of two closets,” she said. “There were basically a police dispatcher and a fire dispatcher. We wrote everything down. Every traffic stop was logged, every other communication and incident was logged.
Over the years, the position transitioned into using online computer systems. And with each new technological change, Gail kept up in a job that changes pace one call after the next.
“We can go from a mundane ‘someone broke into my car last night and it’s five hours later,’ to the next phone call might be ‘I just came into my house and my husband’s on the floor I’m not sure if he’s breathing,’” explained Gail.
Though each day brought its challenges, Gail was always happy to help in her own way.
“People would say it is gratifying as much as it is a frustration that it can be sometimes,” she added. “It’s great to help people. I’ve always wanted to help people. I think it’s just a desire to serve people, to do something for a community. ”
Before she left the station, Gail was honored with a meritorious award for her 40 years of service. An unseen hero getting recognition much deserved.
Gail says as she retires and plans to travel to Europe, her coworkers at the police and fire departments will always remain her family.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.
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