GREENVILLE — At the recent graveside service for Greenville Township Rescue Assistant Chief Mark Dotson, CareFlight flew overhead and a voice came over a speaker announcing his “last call.”
The words were spoken by Kim Knick, dispatcher at the Darke County Sheriff’s Department.
“I was hoping I could get through it,” she said. “I have done three of them [last calls].”
She said when she first began working for the sheriff’s office, everyone had to take an EMT class.
“Mark taught it,” she said.
Knick started her 19th year in June at the sheriff’s department.
“I needed a job,” she said. “I left the Elks, where I was manager the last 10 years. I went to work in a restaurant which I didn’t care for, and there was an opening here.”
She started in dispatch and has always done that.
“I was asked by Ron Smalldon, ‘Do you know how to answer phones?,’” she recalled.
Does she have any regrets in her career at the sheriff’s office?
“I’m not at all sorry,” Knick said. “I wish I would have started when I was younger.”
She had her own way of answering calls in the beginning.
“We use plain language out here,” she said, referring to the sheriff’s office. “I was working nights then and nobody was listening. In scanner land now, everybody knows the signals anyway. I just tell them how it is. Now we have them [deputies] to call in or send messages to us for the privacy of the people.”
Her most memorable dispatch was when she helped a father deliver his baby.
“Everything went okay,” Knick said. “It was April 21, 1998. She [the baby] is 17 now. I got to meet her with the squad after she got home from the hospital.”
The delivery was successful, but she admitted to being very nervous.
She said the toughest part about being a dispatcher is when she is working with a family she has known for a long time and it’s a serious situation.
“One time, [the late] Jo Grottle was my trainer and there was a fire at her house,” Knick remembered. “She went into a dispatch mode. You have to be professional.”
Knick, who was also trained by Barb Skinner, has enjoyed her time at dispatch, but admitted that things are changing rapidly.
“We are going to start have texting 9-1-1,” she said. “When I started, we had to write down any call we went on. Now computers do that. We used to type our log on a manual typewriter and kept everything by hand. There is a lot going onto keep up with. We didn’t have the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) when I started.”
Knick said the dispatchers are now working 12-hour shifts. She is the one with the most seniority.
“There are long days,” she said. “We have seven other dispatchers and there are always two on at a time.”
Her other job as Elks manager was a lot different.
“Where I worked before is not life-and-death like it is here.”
She praises her cohorts at the sheriff’s office.
“You couldn’t ask for a better group of people,” she said. “We’re a family here. We know what everybody is going through socially and professionally. Recently, I had a bat in my house and they found out about it and put Batman and Robin signs up. I didn’t experience that [camaraderie] until I started here. I know their kids’ names and so much more. I want them to go home to their families at night. They’re my men and my women. I praise what they do. I couldn’t go out and do what they do. I’ll tell them where to go but they can take it from here.”
The 1976 Greenville High School graduate said she lived in a Florida a year after she graduated.
“I came back and went to work for the Elks when I was 21,” she said.
Her parents are Don and Ina (Young) Knick. Her father just died at the end of April and her mother died six years ago. She has a sister, Vicky Galloway.
Knick said she has been a Hospice volunteer.
“I am not doing it so much now because of our hours but I may get back into it,” she said. “I got involved with Mom. It is my way of paying back. I know what a family goes through.”
Knick, who enjoys jigsaw puzzles, makes her home with her two West Highland terriers, Charlie and Sadie.