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July 13, 2024

Setting the (911) Record Straight –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 11, 2014

I had said, after the primary was over, that I was not going to write any more of these. I felt that I had said everything that needed to be said, although I could have said much, much more.
I also said that I knew that there would be repercussions from my posts. There are, in today’s Beacon News. I have to ask, what took you so long?
I said in one of my posts that I understand the 911 coordinator is angry that her boyfriend/husband was unseated by Sheriff Motley. I get that. My feelings would be hurt too. I also knew that the GEMS (those poor souls suffering from generational entitlement mentality syndrome) would not like what I wrote any more than they like what the Edgar County Watchdogs write. Its okay. I knew what they are before I wrote what I wrote.
However, I do have this annoying thing about the truth. So lets talk about the the Beacon News article.
First, no one, not Sheriff Motley, and not anyone else forced the 911 coordinator to move her office to the courthouse. She made that decision soon after Sheriff Motley took office. It is true that the Sheriff made several changes when he walked in the door. He did walk in the door with State Troopers and dogs. Did that make her feel uncomfortable? He did start locking doors that had not previously been locked. Did that make her uncomfortable? He did put a stop to inmates coming and going as they pleased. Maybe that made her uncomfortable? I just don’t know. Those things made me feel more secure and they should make the community feel more secure.
The second misconception that I would like to address is the 911 coordinator’s supervisory role over the dispatchers. The dispatchers have always worked for the Sheriff and been directly supervised by the Sheriff. It was that way when I started 13 years ago and it is that way today. I was hired by Sheriff Farnham. I did not even meet the 911 coordinator until after I started and then was told by the coordinator that she was not my supervisor. I do believe she had some supervisory power when Crippes was Sheriff, but not before then.
The next issue that received a lot of print was a rude dispatcher. I don’t want to sound egotistical, but I am pretty sure that they were referring to me. Okay, so lets go through this again. 911 is for emergency calls only.
For 16 hours of a 24 hour day, there is ONE dispatcher on duty. Most of the time there is two from 4pm to midnight. 911 only pays for 8 hours of dispatch (when there are two dispatchers) out of a 24 hour day. However, 911 calls are answered 24 hours a day. The lone dispatcher is often handling multiple calls, plus radio traffic from emergency personnel and the deputies. Now add in business line calls. My point is, when someone calls 911 and does not have an emergency, they are tying up the dispatcher and the 911 call when someone else may be facing a true threat to life or property. Yes I am short with people when they mis-use 911. If they want to take that for being rude, so be it. I, personally, think it is even more rude to call 911 to report that you backed into another vehicle and dented your car in a public parking lot in the middle of the day when someone else may be calling 911 to ask for an ambulance because their baby is not breathing.
Lets look at this another way. Your tax money goes to support 911. It also goes to fund roads, bridges, the local hospital (think medicare and medicaid), fire depts, ambulances, and police to name a few. That does not mean that one can use these resources in any manner one chooses. Lets say your child’s birthday is coming up and he loves firetrucks. Think you can go borrow one for the party? Your tax money is funding it. You wouldn’t even consider asking. Why because that firetruck has to be available for an emergency. Next time you move, see if you can borrow an ambulance. We all know it would be ludicrous to even think about it. The ambulance has to be available (even on a slow day) to answer emergency calls. Having a garage sale? What if it rains? Move it into the hallway at the ER. Of course you wouldn’t. That space has to be accessible for the ER staff to do their jobs properly. 911 is an emergency resource much like the ER, the fire department, the police, and the ambulance service. It is not justifiable to use it in any way one chooses just because it is supported by tax dollars.
I hope I made my point in a kind and gentle way. If not, I will tell you, when you call 911 with a non emergency, that you need to call the Sheriff’s Office or the Paris PD on their business line. Take a few moments to look up the numbers and put them in your phone or next to your phone. Just a couple more things, I said before that I have always, told people that they cannot use 911 for non-emergency calls. Until I wrote in support of Sheriff Motley, it was not an issue. Not when Farnham was Sheriff and not when Crippes was Sheriff. One last thing, at least for now.
To my knowledge, no dispatcher, ever, has instructed any 911 call to call the fire department themselves. The only instance that I could ever conceive of that happening is if the person called 911 to report that they had a recreational fire (not a 911 emergency) and was told that they also needed to notify the fire department.
In closing, the dispatchers at the Sheriff’s office do not work for 911 nor have they ever. This one never will. I absolutely, positively refuse. If there is an issue with the way your call was handled, please do call the Sheriff (465-4166). He does want to know and will take appropriate action after listening to the call and gathering all of the facts.

Donna Throneburg


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  • eric pratt
    Posted at 19:27h, 11 June Reply

    I have heard of many examples of 911 calls that amounted to someone calling because someone else would not take them to the liquor store (or something similar). It may sound funny to some but if I had to deal with that nonsense and do my job I would be a little short-tempered also. 911 = emergency. Even little kids know that.

    • Donna
      Posted at 07:29h, 12 June Reply

      Thank you Mr. Pratt. The thing is, this is not about a dispatcher being short or even rude in some peoples opinion, or I (and I assume its me), or I would have been reprimanded years ago. Its about my support for the Watchdogs and their efforts to clean up local government. If it was truly about emergency services, there would be more than one dispatcher on duty at least from 6am to midnight. We would have updated equipment that could pinpoint where cell calls are coming from. It does exist. Other people have seen it. Other counties use it. We don’t have it. Maybe updated equipment would be a better use of the coordinator’s time and the tax payer’s money.

  • candy apple
    Posted at 23:37h, 11 June Reply

    What Donna deems non emergency might just feel like an emergency to a citizen calling 911. I’ve been told since I can remember to call 911 if you feel you have an emergency. Pretty sure there is proof that she has literally hung up on callers. Not right in any way, shape, or form!! I hope it’s not her shift if God forbid I ever need to use 911 and Donna Throneburg doesn’t deem it necessary! She absolutely needs to get over herself and do her job or the public should cry for her resignation! !

  • Kirk Allen
    Posted at 09:54h, 12 June Reply

    Candy Apple you once again show your ignorance to the law. Its not about what you “feel” is an emergency. The law is clear and the Dispatchers are trained and certified to know what meets that criteria. This dispatcher has proven to be extremely reliable and capable of performing her duties like few I have seen and i have seen thousands all over the country. You have been told to call 911 if you feel you have an emergency? Who ever told you that “should” have read the statute and taught you what the law says, which outlines criteria and if that criteria is not followed it can be a felony for calling 911 when its not an emergency. Isaf prosecuted such a case from a citizen right here in Kansas.
    Oh how I wish people would read the law before they open their mouth and make themselves look uneducated.

  • kevin tresner
    Posted at 12:11h, 12 June Reply

    I disagree. I am a tax payer and I pay money into 911. If my wife or elderly mother is out at night breaks down in the country or highway I would expect them to call 911 for help.What if they are not familiar with the town they are in? When scared you don’t think about calling information. You think of calling 911 for help. Same thing in a parking lot accident. I am sure there is more than one line for 911 to ring in so all lines are not being tied up for calls like this.
    I also think it would make sense for dispatchers to work for 911 and not the Sheriff since they are 911 dispatchers. Who do 911 dispatchers in other counties work for? Sheriff or 911?
    Sounds like if the complaints are only on one dispatcher being rude and you say its you, what is that telling you? Sounds like its time for you to find a new job!

  • JoMama
    Posted at 13:07h, 12 June Reply

    It’s clear the Beacon article was nothing more than a drive-by on the sheriff.
    Nanny was the one that insisted on moving to the basement because her hubby lost the election.
    Nanny knows that the 911 dispatchers have always worked for the sheriff since 911 first started. She even stated at meetings to talk to the sheriff, not her, when asking about dispatchers.
    Why would one department have any say on who another department hires?
    Does the sheriff demand to be in the hiring process of flaggers for the highway department? Why not…they direct traffic? LOL.
    The Beacon reported what they were told to report without verification of anything. Sad day for them.

  • Donna
    Posted at 17:10h, 12 June Reply

    Mr Tresner, thank you so much for your comments. I am always glad when people join in on the discussion. You are absolutely correct when you say there is more than one phone line. There are four 911 lines and five business lines on each of two phones. But there is only one dispatcher on duty 16 of 24 hours. I have raised this issue many, many times over the years. We cannot put a 911 call on hold for any reason. It doesn’t matter how fast the dispatcher is, or how experienced the dispatcher is. We each have only one mouth, two hands, and two ears. Many times I have handled simultaneous 911 calls. One phone in my left hand and one on my right. In fact, it happened yesterday. The issue is not the number of lines but the number of dispatchers available to handle the calls. 911 improper use calls disrupt 911 calls from folks who are in an emergency situation. As for the scenario involving someone out alone at night, I would absolutely consider that an emergency. I have handled several such calls. It is my practice to stay on the line with that caller until help arrives or until the caller tells me they are comfortable hanging up. Or, until I have to handle a third 911 call for a legitimate emergency. Lets take your same scenario and make it a little more scary. A loved one calls 911 because she has hit a deer. It is late at night and she is alone. Thankfully, she is not injured, but it is late and she is way out in the county. A second 911 call comes in asking for an ambulance for someone who has cut them self and is bleeding profusely. The caller needs instruction on what to do until the ambulance arrives. We are still okay. I have two hands and two ears and I can continue to keep your loved one on the line while I page the ambulance and speak to the other caller. A third 911 call comes in. There is no one else trained to answer that call. I have to hang up on someone. Its most likely going to be your loved one. She has the less serious emergency of the two known calls. I will call her back as soon as I can, but I have only the physical ability (two hands, two ears) to speak to only two callers at one time. The third call is a fender bender at the 24 gas station. The area is well lit. It is right in Paris. There are people around. No one is injured. The caller obviously has a cell phone and get the business line number to the Paris PD. The station has a phone book and probably has the number written down already in a convenient place near the phone. Does that make you feel any differently about the non-emergency call? If not, let me know and I will try to better explain my position.

  • Donna
    Posted at 17:56h, 12 June Reply

    Mr Tresner, I just finished my post and immediately realized that I should have clarified a couple of things about how 911 works in Edgar County. Continuing our same scenario, there is another option I should mention for that third 911 call. I could ignore it and allow it to “roll over” to Douglas County. A workable option as long as the third call is a fender bender in a well lit business in Paris. Douglas County would call back with the information on our business line and the correctional officer could answer that line and tell the Paris PD. However, Douglas County cannot dispatch a single ambulance, officer, or fire truck in Edgar County. Now lets imagine that the call was not a fender bender but the driver struck a gas pump. You can see how the “roll over” option is not very viable in an emergency. The thing is we, obviously, never know what the call will be when we answer a 911 call. As for those improper use calls, the caller, more often than not, knows they do not have an emergency. In fact, the first words they utter are, usually, “I don’t have an emergency but….”. Caution must always be exercised here. I always take enough time to be sure that there is no emergency before directing the caller to call the business line. Sometimes, a caller will say they do not have emergency when, in fact, they really do. So a considerable amount of time has already been spent on the call. I cannot transfer the call to the Paris PD, We do not have that capability. I believe that time spent in giving the caller the number encourages the behavior. Plus, most of the time you have to wait for them to find pen and paper. Seconds, minutes count in an emergency. I choose not to waste that time for calls that are quite obviously not an emergency. Sadly, most of these calls come from folks in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. The age group which is most able to take care of themselves. It goes without saying that depending on the caller’s age (my eyesight is failing too) or other pertinent information, I handle some non-emergency 911 calls in a different manner. The point I have been trying to make for years is 911 needs to be available and used for emergencies. Please take a moment to find the non-emergency numbers and put them in an accessible place. I absolutely know, in my heart, that no one wants to interfere with someone else getting the emergency help they need. And just so everyone is aware. Please be aware of your location in an emergency, especially out in the country. 911 in Edgar County does not work like it does on TV. Not in Edgar County. We are working with outdated equipment. We cannot pinpoint the location of your cell phone with any accuracy or any consistency. We will find you. We have yet to fail to find someone, but its going to take longer. The equipment we need is out there. Perhaps finding that equipment would be a better use of the coordinator’s time and the taxpayer’s money.

    • franklin
      Posted at 12:38h, 13 June Reply

      sense you are such an expert on 911. Would mind giving your thoughts on the 911 call for citizens arrest in clark county

      • jmkraft
        Posted at 15:19h, 15 June Reply

        Franklin, I will reply to that:
        “Crime in progress”

        • franklin
          Posted at 16:24h, 15 June Reply


    • kevin tresner
      Posted at 13:03h, 13 June Reply

      Donna seems like you are the only dispatcher to ever complain and by your words are the one who is rude. Why is that? Maybe time for another job or since your so perfect maybe you should run for Sheriff.

  • Donna
    Posted at 22:02h, 13 June Reply

    Mr Tresner, I am very far from perfect. And I certainly do not mean to give that impression. I am only trying to do my job which is to get help to people who need it as fast as is humanly possible. I just feel that we should all do what we can to help one another.

  • Donna
    Posted at 22:04h, 13 June Reply

    Franklin, I have not heard the call. I cannot comment on what I do not know.

  • Rational Responses Only - PLEASE
    Posted at 14:25h, 15 June Reply

    Well, after reading Kevin and “franklin’s” responses to Donna’s explanation to how a 911 call might be terminated, in the presence of multiple calls / emergency priorities – it’s clear to see the anti-Donna bias in both of them. PLEASE – no more comments from Franklin or Kevin. Go cry to someone who will listen to your baby rants. Rational, adult responses only, please.

    • franklin
      Posted at 21:42h, 15 June Reply


  • kevin tresner
    Posted at 17:17h, 15 June Reply

    But okay for Donna and you to be bias!!

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 18:29h, 15 June Reply

      Please explain

  • Sharon Hollilngsworth
    Posted at 10:51h, 16 June Reply

    FYI: Yesterday June 15, I called 911 to ask for help with a wellness check. Yes, I was very upset and the dispatcher on duty was a tremendous help. During the initial call, we were somehow disconnected. I immediately called back using my cell phone and she answered right away. When I returned home, on my caller ID listing, there had been a call from the dispatch office. She contacted Deputy Rhoads who met me at my Aunt’s residence and went in the house first. Thank goodness all was well with her (she hadn’t heard the phone ring) and the deputy went on to resume his duties. The dispatcher I am referring to is Kim. She was very helpful, kind, considerate and helped calm me down. She stayed on the line with me until I felt that I didn’t need to tie up her time any longer. So, to KIM thank you so very much and as you said, my aunt was ok. You were a tremendous help to me in my time of need. I don’t know who your “supervisor” is, but, I will find out and let him/her know what a wonderful dispatcher they have with this 911 system. You are an asset for this county and deserve a pay raise!

    • kevin tresner
      Posted at 09:11h, 17 June Reply

      Kim is a nice and pleasant dispatcher be glad you got her and not the other one or she would have told you that call was a misuse.

  • Rational Responses Only - Please
    Posted at 22:46h, 16 June Reply

    My comment, “…rational, adult responses only, please” was targeted at Franklin and Kevin, not Watchdogs. I thought Kevin’s initial comment was rational; it was his viewpoint. However, when Donna responded / rebutted his comment, Kevin spiraled into a rant ending with, “…since you’re so perfect, maybe you should run for Sheriff.” He lost credibility with that one. In my opinion.

    • franklin
      Posted at 17:08h, 17 June Reply

      so is this your web sight and you decide who speaks and who doesnt

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