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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Carrasco is PD's chief dispatcher

Staff Writer
Sulema Gamboa-Carrasco took a part-time dispatching position with the Pecos Police Department eight years ago and has been one of the friendly voices taking 911 calls for the region ever since. Born in Pecos, Sue as her friends call her, moved to Mentone soon after, and did most of her growing up in Loving County, which is home to fewer than 100 residents.

"I am homesick still to this day. I loved it out there," Carrasco said. "My father worked for Deep Well on Anderson Ranch, but when he became ill, we had to move back to town."

Carrasco came back to Pecos after her junior year in high school and has been here ever since. Right out of high school she took various jobs with grocery stores, until one day when her brother, who was in the police department reserves, heard that the department was looking for part-time dispatching help. The next day she applied and got the job.

Carrasco has been the Her duties as supervisor include the training of new hires, scheduling, 911-computer system maintenance and all validation with the state databases.

"We have to make sure that whenever the police department posts a stolen vehicle or missing person's report, hard copies of the data are in-order and ready to go when the state confirms the information," Carrasco said.

According to Carrasco, all of the communication officers at the station, part-time and full-time, must complete the 40-hour course that is required in the State of Texas. In addition to that, the 911 Planning Commission provides workshops for operators covering an array of subjects from, handling stress to fielding calls.

Carrasco also head the police department's program that instructs kids on how and when to use the 911 emergency phone line. "We have 'Ready Fox' and materials from the 911 commission, that we use when we go and talk to the kids about when they should call 911."

She remembers the first call where she felt like she had really helped someone.

"The call came in from a semi on the highway. It was a female trucker calling to report that her husband was experiencing chest pains. Carrasco informed the lady that an ambulance was on the way, but the couple should stop to give the paramedics a chance to catch up.

The truck, east bound on I-20 between Pecos and Monahans, did eventually pull over. The ambulance quickly caught up with them, and the guy had not been in the ambulance but maybe a couple of minutes when the guy 'coded," the term for a flatline, she said.

"If they wouldn't have stopped it could have been a lot longer before the guy got help and he might have died."

Carrasco added that one of the toughest parts of the job is calming down callers to identify what type of aid they need.

"Often it can take quite a while before you can calm someone down far enough to find out what is the matter, and get the proper agencies responding." The worst day Carrasco can remember is the day that Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force member Jaime Rodriguez was shot and killed.

"We began the day with the officers chasing some kids down at a motel that were wanted on some unrelated incident," she said, referring to the arrest of two suspects in a double murder in Georgia. " We were already on edge with our officers in danger there, when the call came in from the bus stop, and the day turned tragic."

The police department's communication unit handles dispatches for the Pecos Fire and Ambulance services, Balmorhea Fire and Ambulance, Toyah Fire and Balmorhea Fire.

"Typically, however, we contact the Ward County Sheriff's Office in the event of a fire in Barstow. That way we can get both stones rolling at the same time."

"With the way that the calls come in on cell phones especially, we have to have and do have really good communication with the surrounding counties, which really makes coordinating operations between agencies easier," Carrasco said.

As supervisor Carrasco has three full-time and two part-time dispatchers working for her. The officers work 12-hour shifts, but with a workweek that runs two to three days on, then two to three off, it is not that bad, Carrasco said.

TxDOT holding area meetings
on corridor, rural transit plans

The Texas Department of Transportation will hold a series of public hearings throughout the state in February regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor to gather comments and opinion on possible routes for the Trans-Texas Corridor.

TxDOT will also hold a meeting via teleconference next Tuesday evening in Odessa to discuss state and federal funding for smaller transportation systems.

The Trans-Texas corridor hearing will take place in Pecos at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the Reeves County Civic Center The plan involves creating or improving major highway and rail routes through Texas Some of the routs would bypass the major urban areas, according to a conceptual map released by TxDOT in 2002.

In West Texas, the priority corridor route is listed as Interstate 10, through Balmorhea and southern Reeves County. I-20, though Pecos and northern Reeves County, is also on the corridor list, as is FM 3078 and State Highway 17 in southern Reeves County, as part of a link to connect I-10 with the Presidio-Ojinaga border crossing.

Next week's statewide listening session will be conducted by TxDOT via video teleconference, to discuss the state and federal funding formulas for rural and small urbanized public transportation operators.

The video teleconference will be held from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., next Tuesday in Odessa, 3901 E. Business I-20 (old U.S. 80), in the large conference room.

According to a TxDOT press release, public input will assist the agency in developing state and federal formulas used to allocate funding for public transportation in rural and small urbanized areas of the state. Citizens of Texas are encouraged to join TxDOT at the listening session held in their area to express comments on this topic.


High Tuesday 58. Low this morning 35. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 60. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 20s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 50. Northwest winds near 10 mph. Friday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 20s to the lower 30s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 50s to the lower 60s. Saturday night: Mostly clear. Lows near 30.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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