CULLMAN, Ala. – The week of Jan. 15-19 was one for the books. An unprecedented freeze sent the county into a tailspin; freezing rain and frigid temperatures collaborated to create impassable roads. Kayla Melton, one of Cullman’s local 911 dispatch supervisors is publicly thanking the community for stepping up and taking care of one another during the trying time.
Residents across the county showed a true sense of community, pulling one another from trepidatious situations, delivering groceries and medications. And an entire neighborhood came together to remove ice from their roads, allowing a path for emergency response vehicles.
In addition to stressed out and stranded residents, local dispatchers faced their own challenges. Some were frozen in place at the dispatch office, unable to safely make their way home. Local restaurants graciously prepared, packaged and delivered hot meals to the first responders. Local Jeep owners and the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office helped coordinate transportation for those employees who needed a lift.
“Cullman City Communications received a multitude of calls for assistance last week – wrecks, assisting stranded motorists, medical issues and people who needed help in their home. Over the last eight years that I have been working with 911, this year’s winter weather was a bit different, in that the roadways were unsafe for multiple days. As an emergency telecommunicator, it was a stressful week and had its challenges. Supervisors worked to ensure that employees had a way to work and home and that they were taken care of while they sheltered at the station,” said Melton.
“Our frontline dispatchers used their experiences to assist with calls for roadway conditions, their training to handle emergency calls, they helped ensure that other agencies were updated with information, and getting the resources that our first responders needed,” she continued. “The best part of the week (was) seeing all the support for one another; restaurants ensured we and our first responders were fed. The groups and individuals that braved the slick conditions to help get others to work, providing them gas, food or water. The commitment of our staff to ensure that our community had someone to answer their call for help. Cullman is truly a great place to live and work.”
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