8-year veteran named SECOMM Dispatcher of the Year

Tri-City HeraldApril 17, 2014 

Katie Ziegler, SECOMM Dispatcher of the Year

Katie Ziegler laughs Thursday with James Barber, communications center manager, during a ceremony honoring her at Benton County Emergency Management in Richland. She was named Southeast Communications 2013 Dispatcher of the Year.

SARAH GORDON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Katie Ziegler is calm under pressure. "Calm as the ocean on a windless day," her boss said.

That quality has served her well in her job at the Southeast Communications Center in Richland, where she handles 911 calls from around Benton County.

And it's one of the reasons she was named the 2013 Dispatcher of the Year.

"She's just a superior performer. That's really it in a nutshell," said James Barber, communications center manager. "Over the years, she's handled some pretty significant calls, and last year was no exception. She exemplifies everything we want in a dispatcher."

Ziegler, 30, of Kennewick, received the award in a ceremony Thursday.

Her interest in law enforcement drew her to the job, and it turned out to be a good fit.

She is approaching her eight-year anniversary at SECOMM.

She likes the fast pace, how every day is different. How she gets the chance to help people when they really need it.

Ziegler described the award as overwhelming and humbling and was quick to praise her co-workers.

"Any one of them could have been chosen and it would have been a good decision," she told the Herald.

Her husband, Bill, and her parents, Deanna Woods and James Ficklin, joined her at the ceremony, which also was attended by several SECOMM staff members and law enforcement officials from around the county.

Tracey Ollerman, a fellow dispatcher, told of a recent shift when Ziegler expertly dealt with multiple fire calls in quick succession.

"You wouldn't even notice she had any activity going on from the way she was handling it," Ollerman said.

Aimee Fournier-Plante, a dispatcher who helped train Ziegler, added her own endorsement:

"She's a rock star, definitely," she said.

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