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Jackson County Communications Officer Deborah Mathewuse Honored as FSA Dispatcher of the Year

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (February 4, 2015) – The Florida Sheriffs Association announced today that Communications Officer Deborah Mathewuse, of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, has been selected as the 2015 Dispatcher of the Year. This new award is given to a Communications Officer who has demonstrated exemplary service in the line of duty. FSA Executive Director Steve Casey and President Sheriff David Shoar presented Officer Mathewuse with the award. 

In any career, dedication to the job and exhausting all options to get that job done is an integral part of being successful. For Jackson County Communications Officer Deborah Mathewuse, this is not only the key to success but a requirement to save lives. Serving as a communications officer for Jackson County is a challenge in its own right, being the only county bordering both Georgia and Alabama. They are responsible not only for the Sheriff’s Office but several smaller police agencies, the Jackson County Fire Rescue and the 911 center. All of these calls are taken by two communications officers, occasionally three.

Many will remember, January 7, 2014, as one of the coldest days recorded in the panhandle; however, for Officer Mathewuse and two teenage boys it is remembered as a day that will forever impact their lives. Early that morning Officer Mathewuse intercepted a call from a cell phone hearing what she described as a faint voice and a tin roof flapping before the call was terminated. Following her instincts she knew the caller must be in danger and unsuccessfully tried to reconnect with them. Officer Mathewuse wasted no time in acting, utilizing a GPS mapping system to find the general location the call came from, and determined they were somewhere in a rural area in Seminole County. She proceeded to contact the service provider of the cell phone with hopes of learning more about the subscriber to bring them to safety. After obtaining the street address of the subscriber and a secondary phone number for them, Officer Mathewuse was able to contact the parents and learn more about the situation. 

Officer Mathewuse discovered the call was made by three teenage boys that were duck hunting in a remote area and obtained their vehicle and boat information from their parents. By passing this information on to both the Seminole County Georgia Sheriff’s Office and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, first responders were able to quickly find the vehicle and shortly after find two of the boys clinging to a tree, suffering from hypothermia and provide them with the care they required. Unfortunately the third young man with them had succumbed to the extreme conditions. 

It is because of her quick thinking, tireless efforts and open communication with multiple departments that the two young men are alive today. Sheriff Louis Roberts said, “Standard protocol would have been to relay the call and information to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. “Fortunately, Officer Mathewuse felt the need to take further action and aided first responders in arriving just in time to save two young lives.”

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