Tanya Mayo knew something was up. “Everybody was suddenly on me to attend (the APCO-MS/NENA Conference 2005). I had four people hit me in one week to go, and I knew something was going on.”
The persistence of those four people paid off, and Mayo joined fellow public safety professionals from across the Southeast at an Awards Banquet the evening of May 10. And even then, keeping the Larry Lindsey Award a surprise was high priority.
“We did everything we could to make her think someone else had gotten the Award,” said APCO-MS President Brenda Gowdy. “Our Media Director even sat at the table with her, and kept looking around the room and asking aloud if the Larry Lindsey recipient had shown up. It may have thrown her off the scent, but not for long.”
The secret began to unravel as Gowdy spoke of Mayo’s service as a veteran telecommunicator at Lee County Communications in Saltillo, Mississippi. Even though the recipient’s name was not yet known, some people familiar with Mayo’s dedication and compassion knew exactly who it was. Fellow Lee County Communications telecommunicator Cyndi Englund was heard whispering, “Tanya, that sounds like you!”
Mayo accepted her Award to a standing ovation from the audience. She joins the ranks of some of the best telecommunicators in the nation who have already been recognized by the Larry Lindsey Award.
“Recognition for what we do is scarce,” said Gowdy. “Law enforcement officers, EMS workers, firefighters, and other emergency responders on the scene get all the media attention. But to the public, we’re just anonymous voices on the other end of a telephone. This Award helps remind our state’s telecommunicators that they are doing a great job, and Tanya certainly deserves it for her compassion and dedication.”
Mayo was nominated by fellow telecommunicator Amanda Allred and her shift supervisor Jason Nichols. Allred described Mayo as “the type of person you can depend on, a hard worker who is always interested in learning new things.” Mayo’s benefit to her agency was also recognized, with Allred adding that “she gets along with everyone she works with.”
With nominations in previous years, it was only a matter of time before Mayo was recognized for her work. One example cited of her professionalism was a 9-1-1 caller suffering from breathing difficulties. Mayo’s years of experience in respiratory therapy proved invaluable, and she was able to provide critical support until paramedics were able to reach the scene and provide advanced life support.
“It’s all in a day’s work for her,” said a telecommunicator on her shift. “We’re not just a shift, we’re a team. And Tanya brings so much to that team that we would be crippled without her. This Award just confirms what we already know first-hand—that she has an excellent work ethic and a level of compassion that you simply can’t do this job without.”
The Larry Lindsey Award given to Mayo recognizes the contributions and performance of Mississippi’s best telecommunicators. 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.
Mayo joined APCO in 2004, and is looking forward to heavier involvement in APCO-MS efforts. “I’ve seen the work other APCO members are doing and the good it does. I don’t want to be just a dispatcher—I want to do more.”