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Sukus promoted to 911 center director

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AMES, ANN MARIE
January 11, 2013

— Kathy Sukus likes to tell people she was born for the job.

Not only was she born on 9/11, but she was born in 1968, the year of the first 911 call in the United States.

She has worked for more than two decades in emergency dispatching. Now, Sukus will be the head of Rock County Communications, the 46-person department that takes 911 calls from the public and uses the information to dispatch police, EMTs and firefighters to emergencies.

The county board on Thursday voted to promote Sukus to communications director. She has been working as interim director since former Director Dave Sleeter retired in July.

Sukus started working for the county in 1993 as one of the first telecommunicators when the county started taking 911 calls in its new center. Before that, each police department and fire station had its own emergency number and its own dispatchers.

Before she worked for the county, Sukus was a Beloit Police Department dispatcher from 1988 to 1993.

These days, Sukus rarely answers 911 calls, although she can, she said. Her promotion from operations manager, a title she'd held since 1996, means she will have more responsibility over the direction of the $5 million department, Sukus said.

Sukus has been overseeing the county's transition to digital from analog radio communications. The transition started in June and experienced bumps, including problems with software that led to lost or dropped radio calls.

That transition is almost finalized, Sukus said. Coming up will be a new phone system and other equipment for dispatchers. The changes will make it possible for people to send text messages to 911. That's an option Sukus wants to consider.

Another goal is to bring more of a personal touch to the communications center and let people know about the good work dispatchers and emergency responders are doing.

This year, a communications center billboard campaign will feature people whose lives were saved by dispatchers.

"I want to highlight more of the hidden things," Sukus said. "There are so many good things that happen."



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