ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County 911 Dispatcher Tyler Prenkert was named the county’s 911 Telecommunicator of the Year on April 15, in part due to his quick thinking to help save the life of a New Buffalo woman in December.

The announcement was made by Jack Fisher, chairman of the county’s 911 Advisory Board, during the Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Emergency responders were dispatched Dec. 31 to New Buffalo after receiving a call from a woman saying she couldn’t get out of her burning house.

Fisher said Prenkert encouraged her to get out of her wheelchair so she could yell out of a bedroom window.

“He was very calm and his demeanor helped bring the caller’s anxiety down to a level where he could instruct her on how to help save her own life,” Fisher said. “He was very empathetic and quickly assessed the situation to come up with a viable option to help her, being handicapped. This call was just one excellent bullet point in his overall performance.”

It was previously reported that due to the coordination with the 911 dispatcher, Deputy Michael Pellerito from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department was able to pull the 72-year-old woman out of the window just as flames and smoke intensified.

The woman was taken to the hospital by a Medic 1 ambulance for treatment of minor injuries.

On Thursday, Fisher said Prenkert has the ability to reason through complex calls to determine a course of action.

“He can easily keep pace with the room activity and helps out coworkers when he sees them struggling or inundated with a heavy workload,” he said. “Supervisors trust his intuition and look at him as an exemplary employee to newer staff, setting a good standard of how to be a competent dispatcher.”

Public Safety/911 Director Caitlin Sampsell said they strive to recognize the 911 dispatchers during National 911 Public-Safety Telecommunicators Week, which is this week.

Also recognized as nominees were Niles Dispatcher Earl Shaffer, Berrien County Supervisor Sarah Blurton, and Berrien County Supervisor Cassidie Pointer.

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