ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) When the worst happens in Roanoke, it's men and women like Tracy Van Hice who take the call
"I just aspire to help the community," she said.
Van Hice has worked here at the 911 dispatch center, in the basement of Roanoke's Municial building, for the last seven years, handling everything from fires to fights with coolheadedness and resolve.
"I just stay calm with them and make sure that they know we're sending them help," she said.
Wednesday, that calm was rewarded. Van Hice and two of her coworkers were honored at a ceremony officially recognizing their service and sacrifice.
"I'm just really, really proud of them," said Rebekah Stephens, an operations specialist at the call center.
She helped hand out the awards Wednesday, which included the Communications Officer of the Year for Van Hice, perfect attendance for dispatcher Nicole Manning, and a promotion for dispatcher Emily Thompson.
"They work really, really hard day in and day out, 24/7 365 days per year," said Stephens.
But these awards are notable for another reason: they're the last to be given for service here at the municipal building. Later this year, dispatch will move a few miles down the road, to a brand new 911 call center, opening on Orange avenue.
"Actually starting the award ceremonies at the new facilities, we're excited," said dispatch manager Sonya Roman.
Roman has worked closely with those awarded for years. Says she expects that their already exceptional level of service will be even better next year, thanks to improvements at the new facility.
And for the dispatchers getting ready to make the journey, they're looking forward to what the future will bring.
"Awesome, exciting and amazing," said Van Hice.