The city’s Board of Supervisors and fire chief honored a San Francisco 911 dispatcher this afternoon for his work coordinating the emergency response during the Asiana Flight 214 plane crash last summer.
Matthew Roybal was named “911 Dispatcher of the Year” and given the award by Supervisor London Breed at today’s board meeting at City Hall.
Breed said Roybal helps keep people safe from the stressful environment of the communications center where 911 calls come in and “reassures people on their worst days.”
She lauded him for his work on July 6, 2013 when Asiana Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport.
“The dispatch center was inundated,” Breed said. “(Roybal) had to determine what information was essential.”
Matthew coordinated all fire and medical units that were sent from San Francisco to SFO that day.
Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said the fire department “had our hands full that day” and that Roybal was critical in dispatching responders.
She said dispatchers are “the unsung heroes” in the city.
“If they don’t do their jobs efficiently and effectively, we can’t do ours,” she said, referring to the Fire Department.
Surrounded by his wife, additional family members and fellow emergency responders, Roybal, who has been a dispatcher for eight years, said he was honored to receive the title this year.
His fellow dispatchers selected Roybal following the Asiana crash during which he handled 911 calls coming in and dispatching emergency services at the scene.
He said when calls about the crash started flooding in he relied on his fellow dispatchers, whom he said “helped me that day.”
He credited fire department crews he worked with on the phone that day for staying calm and professional.
There are more than 100 dispatchers who work out of San Francisco’s communication center in the city’s Western Addition neighborhood. The dispatchers handle more than 1.2 million emergency calls each year.
Last week, dispatchers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021 staged a protest in front of the Department of Emergency Management headquarters calling for the city to allocate more funding to hire more dispatchers to handle incoming calls.
This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which is set aside each year in the second week of April to recognize the work of 911 dispatchers and other emergency communications workers.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News