Alban (Photo provided by Emy Pombrio.)

Editor’s Note: For 24 years, Priscilla Alban, a 911 dispatcher at Clinton County, has been the voice of comfort and calm for many North Country callers in need. During a discussion with The Work Force’s Therese Assalian, Alban reflects on her career and gives readers a glimpse into the vital work dispatchers do in the communities they serve. Alban also discusses her role as union steward and activist.

Therese Assalian (TA): Being a dispatcher can be quite stressful, yet you are so positive about the work you have done. Why is that?

Priscilla Alban (PA): Yes, I am truly fortunate to be able to say I love my job. There are so many positive aspects to the job we do knowing that we are there to help people who may be at the worst time of their lives. Being able to offer reassurances that help is coming, as well as compassion and sometimes sympathy, is an important component to the job.

There can be very stressful times where the adrenaline goes into overdrive, but you learn to work through those times, do the job and hopefully get a minute of calm to catch your breath and center yourself before the next call.

We also are certified to give pre-arrival instructions to our callers, which often gives them a feeling of security and that they are doing everything they can to help the patient before the “professionals” arrive.

Another aspect of the job that appeals to me is that every day is different. When your shift ends, you leave with a clean slate. Tomorrow is always a new day!

TA: Where geographically do calls come in from and what kind of services do you dispatch?

PA: In our center, we handle all 911 calls in the county. Because of our geographic location, we also receive 911 calls from neighboring areas such as Vermont, Quebec and sister counties. We process and dispatch all EMS and fire calls and transfer law enforcement calls to the proper agencies.

We have 24 fire departments in our county; 22 are volunteer and two are paid departments. We can also dispatch five Canadian and one Vermont fire department that are part of our mutual aid system.

We have eight paid EMS departments and 11 volunteer EMS departments. We work alongside New York State Police, Clinton County Sheriff, Plattsburgh City Police and Plattsburgh State University Police.

TA: Any calls stand out as being particularly satisfying?

PA: I have handled every type of call that can be imagined, many very difficult calls, but some positive ones, also. I’ve helped with the delivery of three babies before EMS arrived and I’ve had many cardiac saves which helps gets you through the tough ones.

It will be bittersweet leaving a job I love, but I head to retirement knowing I have helped many and done it to the best of my ability and that brings me much pride and satisfaction.

TA: Tell us about your involvement with CSEA and your local?

PA: During my time with the county, I have also had the honor of serving my co-workers and department as shop steward for our CSEA Clinton County Employees Local for more than 15 years. That and having been able to see us through a reallocation and change to our shift schedule gives me great satisfaction.


About Author

Therese has been working as the Capital Region Communications Specialist since 2002 handling all facets of internal and external communications for the region. Therese started her career at a Madison Avenue Public Relations firm and held several positions in public relations, marketing and event planning in corporate and non-profit roles in New York and Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Capital Region in 1999. Therese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication Studies and is also a published freelance writer on travel, food and the arts.

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