Keeping the Larry Lindsey Award a secret wasn’t easy.
APCO-MS President Brenda Gowdy laughs about the effort to keep the award winner from getting wind of her great honor. “We had half of Itawamba County helping us with the presentation arrangements. Her bosses were being told, we were borrowing the courthouse, her coworkers were coming—it was crazy.”
That big surprise was dropped on Itawamba County telecommunicator Dee Dee Hughes in Fulton today at a special presentation by the APCO Mississippi Chapter. Hughes received her recognition at the Itawamba County Courthouse amongst friends, family, fellow public safety professionals, and APCO members. She joins a select group of telecommunications professionals honored for their dedication, determination, exemplary professional conduct, and hard work saving lives.
Hughes was brought to tears by the unexpected honor. “I couldn’t stop shaking,” she says with a smile, “I had no clue.” She was lured into the presentation by coworkers who were thanked later by Brenda Gowdy for their help in making the surprise happen. “They did such a great job,” Gowdy said. “I’m not sure what they told her to get her there, but the deception was well worth the happiness it brought her.”
Hughes received her nomination from fellow telecommunicators Meadow Rogers and Michael Walton, who spoke of her caring and concern not only for the people she serves, but also for her peers. Rogers described Hughes as “ready with an open heart and strong sense of duty to her fellow telecommunicators.” Walton added that “Telecommunications is a very good and important job, and Dee Dee does it very well.”
Nominations were screened and voted on by the Board of Officers of APCO-MS, who determined that Hughes displayed the kind of professionalism and humanity that the organization is built upon. APCO-MS Vice-President Steve Caygle commented, “It’s great that we have top-notch people like her in Mississippi, even in our smaller agencies. Dee Dee is a role model for telecommunicators in the state, and we’re very proud to have her as an APCO member.”
Hughes works for the consolidated E9-1-1 service in Itawamba County, serving the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Office, the Fulton Police Department, fourteen volunteer fire departments, and emergency medical services. This is her first recognition of her excellent service to the public, and she felt that it was a recognition also deserved by others. “I feel like sometimes our job goes unnoticed. This makes a big difference.”
Itawamba County Sheriff Phillip Crane agreed as he thanked Hughes for her service. “These people don’t get credit for the work they do,” he said while acknowledging Hughes’ service to the public. Hughes agreed that public safety professionals, particularly telecommunicators, seldom receive recognition for the lives and property they save. “Having the new Sheriff and only working with him for nine months, it made me feel good that somebody is seeing the good.”
The Larry Lindsey Award given to Hughes recognizes the contributions and performance of Mississippi’s best telecommunicators and other public safety professionals. The award was created in honor of Larry Lindsey, a founding member of the Mississippi Chapter of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO). Lindsey was also a major force behind the creation of the State of Mississippi Board of Emergency Telecommunications Standards and Training (BETST), the regulatory agency that certifies emergency telecommunicators in the state and governs their ongoing education and growth.
Hughes expressed her support of APCO, and how she relied on the strength and support of its members. Praising the organization’s high standards, she said she was ready to do “All I can for more people to know what (APCO) is about.” The Larry Lindsey Award, Hughes added, encouraged her to work harder at her important profession. “This gives me a little bit more incentive.”
Hughes laughed about her reaction to the surprise award. “I’ll probably be in tears a couple of hours from now, but right now I’m very happy.”