Laughter a handy tool for high-stress job

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Andy Nessler laughs with Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper after she was honored Wednesday as dispatcher of the year the Grand Junction Regional Communications Center.

Andee Nessler has been telling cops what to do for the past four years. And having a laugh or two doing it.

Nessler, a dispatcher with the Grand Junction Regional Communications Center, is also among the best at what she does, so say her peers.

Nessler was honored in a ceremony Wednesday as the communications center’s dispatcher of the year.

She also was recognized as the agency’s funniest employee, for which she was given a shot glass. For off-duty use, she promised.

“I’ll probably use it tonight,” Nessler said with a broad grin.

She was hired in 2007 with 12 years of experience as a volunteer with the Lower Valley Fire Department.

In the often high-stress environment of dispatchers — last year in Mesa County they fielded more than 106,000 calls on the 911 system — laughter comes in handy, Nessler said.

“People fall out of their chairs, or we call out the wrong name,” she said. “We’re laughing at nobody’s expense but our own.”

Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper said Nessler was selected for the top honor from among seven dispatchers who in 2010 answered more than 300,000 total phone calls on the job, including the 911 case load.

A study by the National Emergency Number Association estimated just 8 percent of the population has the intellectual and emotional capacity to handle such work, Camper said.

“You’re dealing with people who are often having the worst days of their lives,” he said.

The Grand Junction Regional Communications Center dispatches police, fire and other resources for 21 agencies in Mesa County.


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