2012-03-02 / Community

Hackbarth named Dispatcher of the Year

Camarillo resident Nicole Hackbarth has been named the Ventura County Fire Department’s Dispatcher of the Year.

Hackbarth, 30, was raised in Thousand Oaks and graduated from Thousand Oaks High School in 1999. After she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California Lutheran University, she worked at the college in the student programs department.

Hackbarth started working as a dispatcher in 2008 and joined the Ventura County Fire Department dispatcher team in 2010. The majority of Hackbarth’s extended family works in law enforcement, so she always had an interest in emergency services though she never wanted to work out in the field.

She said she enjoys helping people in distressing situations.

“No one calls 911 on their good day,” Hackbarth said. “I’m able to be the calming voice for someone else and offer help and support for someone.”

Hackbarth serves not only as a calming voice but also as an upbeat influence for the dispatcher team, said Cheryl Simmen, a fellow dispatcher who nominated Hackbarth for the award.

“When you’re dealing with emergency situations it can become negative or sad at times, and when you have someone there as a positive influence you’re not sucked into the negativity,” Simmen said.

The fast-paced atmosphere of dispatching demands a high focus level and the necessity of reacting immediately to an emergency situation, Hackbarth said. She enjoys the work because no two emergency calls are alike and every day is a different challenge.

“We have to be on the top of our game at that moment,” Hackbarth said. “You never know if someone’s life is in danger.”

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