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North Bend woman named dispatcher hero

Erin Mitchell, left, is congratulated by Tom Hearne, division manager of emergency medical services for King County, for her Sustained Exemplary Performance award during a ceremony Thursday, April 16, at Bellevue City Hall. - Photo by Chad Coleman
Erin Mitchell, left, is congratulated by Tom Hearne, division manager of emergency medical services for King County, for her Sustained Exemplary Performance award during a ceremony Thursday, April 16, at Bellevue City Hall.
— image credit: Photo by Chad Coleman

As emergency dispatchers, North Bend resident Erin Mitchell and Sammamish resident Becky McCracken are accustomed to staying composed in stressful situations.

But during an award ceremony at Bellevue City Hall on Thursday, April 16, both dispatchers struggled for a brief moment to gain composure when they were publicly recognized by the King County Emergency Medical Services and King County-Seattle Public Health for their outstanding performances with the EMS Division.

McCracken and Mitchell are dispatchers and Communications Training Officers with the Eastside Regional Communications Center.

Nine-year veteran dispatcher Mitchell was recognized for her sustained exemplary performance.

“Erin always comes to work with a positive attitude, is pro-active, and can be counted on time and time again,” said Cleo Subido, the EMD Program Manager of the EMS Division of Public Health.

Mitchell said she always knew she wanted to work in public safety in some facet or another.

“I have always been drawn to public safety, and, as a dispatcher, I feel I can do my best,” Mitchell said. “Certain calls stick with you but at the end of the day, knowing that you played a part in alleviating a negative situation is a great feeling.”

A teary eyed McCracken, who has been dispatching for eight years, received an award for exemplary handling of an EMS incident.

Last August, Joni Corbett called 911 from a trail near Snoqualmie Pass to report that an ice cave had collapsed on her son and his friend. McCracken took Corbett’s panicked call and remained on the line with her for more than an hour. McCracken remained calm and was able to gather crucial information about the location of the cave-in. With McCracken’s assistance, rescuers found the boys, Alec Corbett and Alessandro Gelmini. Both boys attended the award ceremony, surprising McCracken and publicly thanking her again.

“Both of these young ladies play an initial role, a critical role, in this system and they do it with skill,” said Tom Hearne, Division Manager of the EMS Division of Public Health.

McCracken and Mitchell said the job of a dispatcher can be tough at times, but both agreed they could not imagine doing any other job.

“We’re lifers,” McCracken joked. Mitchell agreed, adding, “You might get ten bad calls in a day and one good one, but it’s that one call that makes this job so worthwhile.”

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