Our First Responder Award this month honors 911 operator Trish Matthews

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – It’s National Public Safety telecommunications Week–a time to recognize the valuable contributions made by the thousands of 9-1-1 employees across the country.

The Hamilton county 9-1-1 center has almost 200 people who fit that category.

But this week we salute someone who made it her life’s dedication.

Here’s News 12’s Bill Mitchell with tonight’s first responder of the month.

An estimated 240-million calls are made to 9-1-1 in this country every year. No first responder would arrive at your house without the highly trained dispatchers like Trish Matthews, who has been at the Hamilton county 9-1-1 center for 40 years.

TRISH MATTHEWS, 9-1-1 DISPATCHER “I was working at highway house when my mother had it, as a waitress and I got a call from one of the chiefs in 1981 asked me if I wanted a job. I came on and applied and been here every since.”

Forty years at a stressful job like this, and Trish says she has never regretted it.

TRISH  “I love this job since the day I started. And I still…communications is in my heart.,,it’s where I wanted to be. ”

In Hamilton county we can all remember times of local crisis—the fallen 5, a tragic school bus crash and personal health issues. Those hard days stay with the folks here at 9-1-1.

TRISH  “yes sir! Yessir they stay with you for a long time. Tell me about it. You don’t …you learn how to deal with it..you don’t necessarily get over it..you learn how to deal with it…because life, it’s just going to go on.”

JOHN STUERMER, EXEC. DIR. HAMILTON CO. 9-1-1 “these people..nobody sees them, nobody understands all the work and all the frustrations..all the trouble they go through..the kind of calls they have…they play that critical role because if we don’t do our job right, all first responses, fire, police, ambulances are compromised so, it’s very critical that we have people around here that are trained and dedicated to do that job..and make sure it works well. I’m very proud of them.”

And for Trish Matthews, turns out to be a family tradition.

TRISH  “my mother retired from Red Bank as a dispatcher, I have a nephew who’s a Lt. with the sheriff’s office, I have a nephew with the fire department. Good family. They say I paved the way.”

We salute all the 9-1-1 employees…and one very special part of that group…Trish Matthews who’s been here since 1981. She’s our first responder of the month.


IN Chattanooga, Bill Mitchell News 12 now.

Categories: Featured, First Responder Award, Hamilton County, Local News

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