Madisonville dispatcher remembers working on night of deadly tornados

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Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 6:46 PM CDT
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MADISONVILLE, Ky. (WFIE) - It’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. It’s a chance for us to show appreciation for the hard work of dispatchers.

One of those heroes is 21-year-old Kaleb White at Madisonville Central Dispatch.

He was the youngest dispatcher the city’s ever hired when he started at 18, and he’s still the youngest one there.

But age is just a number, because he’s been named dispatcher of the year for two years running.

“It’s the most stressful job I’ve ever had, but the most rewarding,” said White. “I get to come here every day and talk to people when they’re having the worst day of their life and make an impact on that.”

Dispatchers are there when it really counts, like on the night of the deadly storms on Dec. 10. White wasn’t even on the schedule, but he knew he had to come in.

“When I got here it was about 10 minutes before the storm hit Dawson Springs, and I knew it,” said White. “I walked in the door and it was just pure chaos. I sat down immediately, logged on and started taking phone calls.”

Over that 48 hours, Madisonville Central dispatch took over 1,100 calls.

“They had nobody to call except us, so we got to help there as best as we could,” said White. “It was very difficult listening to everyone trapped, all the injuries.”

White says helping through a deadly storm makes the stress worth it.

“Knowing that you’re all alone and you need help, and you can dial someone and they’re there,” White said.

During a week to show appreciation for dispatchers, White says it doesn’t take much.

“A simple thank you,” he said. “Whenever you call and you need us, when people thank us at the end of the phone call, like thank you for helping me, thank you for what you do.”

White says they call themselves the first first responders. Not always seen, but always heard.

White says he became a dispatcher because he’s always wanted to be a police officer. He recently applied to the academy in hopes of becoming one soon.

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