In the case of an emergency, we know we’re supposed to call 911. Unfortunately, the heroes on the other end of the phone often go unrecognized.
But now the local director of emergency communications is winning national awards.
“People will often call the 911 center — the first of the first responders,” director John Merklinger said. “I think that’s certainly true.”
Merklinger has worked at the Monroe County 911 Center for 31 years. He’s spent 17 of those as director of emergency communications.
“The job satisfaction from knowing you were able to help somebody in their time of need, it’s the greatest thing in the world,” Merklinger said. “I’d almost say it’s better than getting a paycheck but….”
Aside from the paycheck, Merklinger has earned a number of local and national awards. Most recently, he was the first 911 director to win the Egon Bittner Award, recognizing excellence in leadership in law enforcement. Merklinger says it’s humbling, but there are so many others he’s proud of.
“I think it’s important and special to me,” Merklinger said. “I think it’s a reflection on the quality staff we have working here at this 911 Center. We have a lot of really dedicated people in public safety in this community that do everything they can to help the public and they all should be recognized for that.”
While all of the awards and recognition are nice, Merklinger says the focus is actually the future and implementing new technologies to continue to be successful.