Terry Dolney has spent the past 25 years as a dispatcher. But nothing, he said, could have prepared him for what he and his peers have experienced since the pandemic began two years ago.
At points, up to 100 of the operators Dolney works with at East Metro were out sick due to COVID-19 or other illnesses, leaving him and other dispatchers to fill big gaps with just a handful of available operators.
The situation was especially difficult at the start of the pandemic and in January, when COVID-19 cases spiked.
“It’s been a very challenging time for this workgroup,” Dolney said. “You come in the morning, and you’ve got 18 pieces of open work to fill and just five drivers. It’s hard to figure out what you can cover, what you can’t cover.”
Dolney was among 46 dispatchers who were recognized for their perseverance through the Awarding Accomplishment program. Transit Control Center Assistant Manager Jim Chisolm, who works closely with dispatchers to fill open work was also recognized.
“This team works together to assemble a complicated puzzle day after day,” Chief Operating Officer Brian Funk said. “Their determination and hard work have been critical throughout the pandemic, and especially in these past few months.”
In addition to the day-to-day work of covering open assignments, dispatchers also supported an unscheduled pick and helped operators choose fallback options if service needed to be further reduced.
Robin Gerdesmeier, a mark-up dispatcher at South Garage, said operators also deserved credit for remaining flexible amid all the increased demands and uncertainty.
“We’ve had up days and down days, but every day I come in I try to be friendly and upbeat with all the operators because there’s so much other stuff they have to deal with,” she said. “Dispatchers are often the first ones they see when they get in and the last ones they see before they go home so staying positive makes a real difference.”
Help us recognize staff who go above and beyond by submitting a commendation online or by calling 612-373-3333.