Stoneberger nears 19th year as MCSO dispatcher

Marilyn Stoneberger

Marilyn Stoneberger

KINGMAN - Marilyn Stoneberger, the lead public safety dispatcher for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, will celebrate 19 years of service as a dispatcher with MCSO in October.

MCSO is honoring her and the other dispatchers that work in the office during National Public Safety Telecommunication Week. The week honors those who respond to emergency calls by dispatching emergency personnel and providing life-saving assistance to the citizens of Mohave County and other communities across the country.

Being a dispatcher is not for everyone, Stoneberger said.

"My philosophy is that a multi-task person will more likely succeed as a dispatcher," she said.

People who can take the heat during a crisis and follow it all the way through will definitely succeed, she said.

"The bad calls really require the dispatcher to belly up to the bar and ride it all the way through, no matter how tough it gets," she said.

In 1994, Mohave County presented Stoneberger with an award for going above and beyond in locating an elderly, sick woman and getting her the medical attention she needed.

The information came into dispatch that an elderly woman near Katherine's Landing was dying and she could not get herself out of her mobile camper. Stoneberger worked diligently all night with the park ranger until the woman was located.

Stoneberger recalls working with Bullhead City Hospital to get the woman into the hospital and get the care she needed. Stoneberger also assisted with the follow through care after the woman was released from the hospital.

"Many times, being a dispatcher means we get thrown into the middle of an incident, and in most cases we don't learn the end of the story or what happens with the people," she said.

Stoneberger found her niche in creating a departmental training manual for newly hired dispatchers.

"I knew we needed something, as there was nothing outlined or documented. Training back then was basically watch, grasp as much information as you can and run with it," Stoneberger said.

In 2001, Stoneberger was chosen as a dispatch volunteer at the Utah Winter Olympics.

"After the 9/11 incident, Utah officials were asking for back-up dispatch volunteers to assist at their Winter Olympics. I and another fellow dispatcher were chosen from the Sheriff's Office," she said. "Utah officials choose 50 dispatch volunteers throughout the United States to participate. For the entire month of February, we worked the different venues around Salt Lake and Park City. During this time, we made lifelong friends."

Stoneberger is extremely pleased with National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

"I think recognition and a pat on the back is important. Often, Sheriff Tom Sheahan shakes your hand and acknowledges you for performing a good job!" she said. "Especially on those tough days, it sure makes it worth while to come back the next day."

Stoneberger was asked if she considers herself to be a silent hero. "I don't know about that, it's in the calling of the job. There are calls that we dispatchers receive and know what we did that day made a difference in somebody's life."