Veteran dispatcher retires after nearly 28 years of service

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2013 at 12:00 am

Wayne Litchfield enjoyed working with first responders

Photos by Tom Rivers – Wayne Litchfield looks over a set of instructions for Emergency Medical Dispatch, a reference guide for when callers are facing a medical crisis.

ALBION – Wayne Litchfield has given frantic residents instructions over the phone for performing CPR.

He has advised people suffering a heart attack to take an aspirin, the medical recommendation for a first course of action. He tried to calm down people in duress, telling them help was on the way.

One time he kept a man sought by the police on the phone for 45 minutes, enough time for state troopers to surround the man and take him into custody.

For 27 years and eight months Litchfield worked as a dispatcher for Orleans County. He had his last day on Oct. 31. Today the Sheriff’s Department held a party in his honor. Sheriff Scott Hess presented Litchfield with a plaque for his dedication.

Wayne Litchfield was honored with a party today at the Sheriff’s Department in Albion.

“There’s an old saying that if you love your job, it’s not work,” Litchfield said. “That’s what this was for me. I was paid to help people.”

Litchfield was a volunteer Holley firefighter and EMT when he was hired as a county dispatcher. He enjoyed working with the firefighters, police and ambulance squads, giving them instructions about emergencies and their locations.

He also fielded calls from the public, people often reeling from anxiety because of an emergency.

“He was dedicated to it,” said Steve Smith, the county’s undersheriff. “It was his chosen profession. He never looked at it as a stepping stone to do something else.”

Litchfield was part of a team of nine full-time dispatchers and five part-timers that handle about 33,000 calls a year. Litchfield personified the main qualities needed to excel at the job: patience and “the ability to stay calm when people call in a frantic mood,” said Allen Turner, the communications coordinator at the dispatch.