Cunningham named 911 supervisor of the year

Published 5:59 pm Sunday, June 10, 2018

Steven Cunningham has a job where he can make a difference every day.

A shift supervisor with Vicksburg-Warren 911, Cunningham works with other dispatchers taking calls for assistance from area residents and passes them on to the proper law enforcement agency or the Vicksburg Fire Department or one of the county’s six volunteer fire departments.

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As a supervisor, Cunningham makes sure the dispatchers on his shift provide the best service they can when the public calls. He’s done his job so well, he was named 911’s supervisor of year.

“Steven is hard working, dependable,” said Vicksburg-Warren 911 director Shane Garrard. “He takes action and knows what to do; he doesn’t have to rely on upper management to tell him the right thing to do. We enjoy having him; he’s great for the agency.”

A native and resident of Warren County, Cunningham said he became a dispatcher “Because I’ve always been interested in helping people. When I applied here, I was already a firefighter with the Fisher Ferry Fire Department.”

He joined Vicksburg-Warren 911 in 2008.

“When I started, we were still in the basement of the courthouse,” he said. “When I went through training it was a lot different then. Back then, it was more on the job training, which can be a lot to process.

“It could be very hectic,” he said. “Because while you were training, the person training you may be on something and you’re just thrown out there to sink or swim. It worked real well for weeding people out, but it takes a special person to be a dispatcher.

“The training now is a much better set up than we had back then. The system we have in place now preps them a lot better for when they hit the floor.”

Cunningham was named a supervisor about six years ago.

He said the position requires him to have command of several abilities.

“You have to be able to answer any questions that come in, and know who to go to get the right answers if you don’t know them,” he said. “You make sure every thing flows smoothly, and the community’s getting the help they need; (that) officers, firefighters and deputies are getting the help they need. You’re the buffer between the administration and the other employees.”

Because most of the new dispatchers don’t have experience in 911, he said, the supervisor finishes the training, polishes them; makes them efficient dispatchers.

“As far as anything, each person’s going to be different. Each person’s going to understand things different; you just have to evaluate each employee when they come in, and see where they need help.” he said.

“It’s just amazing in this job the differences in all the calls that you get over time. You’ll hear a little bit of everything over time.

“I have worked every shift we have here. Actually, the majority of my time here has been nights. I worked seven, seven and a half years on nights.

Being named supervisor of the year, Cunningham said, gave him a sense of accomplishment “to know my work does go noticed. I was surprised a little bit. …  A lot bit.”

He’s not sure what the future holds for him at 911, but one thing, he said, is certain.

“I have no plans to leave at this point.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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