The 2017 Northern California wildfires burned at least 245,000 acres and caused the deaths of 44 people. Katerine (K.T.) McNulty, dispatch operations manager, was the calm in the middle of the crisis during those harrowing moments.
Katerine (K.T.) McNulty is a dispatch operations manager for the Redwood Empire Dispatch Communications Authority (REDCOM), Operated by American Medical Response (AMR) in Santa Rosa, Calif.
“As a supervisor at the Redwood Empire Dispatch Communications Authority in Santa Rosa, K.T. remained poised to perform call-taking, dispatching and resource-ordering activities when our community was devastated by the Tubbs, Nuns and Pocket fires in 2017,” said Aaron Abbott, Director, Communications Dispatch. “She and her team were faced with the challenge of receiving hundreds of emergency calls from citizens who were endangered or trapped by the quickly spreading fires. On several occasions, K.T. gave life-saving instructions to citizens in situations that were so unique that no Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD) protocols existed for them.”
“Many of K.T.’s ad-hoc instructions were repeated throughout the dispatch center during those chaotic hours, saving countless lives in the process. After review of the calls with the IAED and Priority Dispatch representatives, many of the instructions provided have been adopted in the Trapped by Wildfire instructions of our latest EFD protocols. K.T. and her team may not have known it at the time, but the work they did for those callers will now live on to save many more lives throughout the world,” Abbott added.
K.T.’s outstanding work earned her the distinction of being named Dispatcher of the Year by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). McNulty was presented with the award during IAED’s annual Navigator Conference in National Harbor. McNulty led her team through some of the most destructive wildfires in California’s history.
The IAED Dispatcher of the Year award annually recognizes a certified emergency dispatcher who successfully exemplifies and furthers the values and mission of the Academies through personal action. Selection for the award takes into consideration such criteria as compliance to protocol, teamwork, initiative to further professionalism and education, and ability to function well under stress.
The IAED is a nonprofit standard-setting organization promoting safe and effective emergency dispatch services worldwide.