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Suwannee County Public Safety Telecommunicators Brittany Wheeler and Taylor McCathern Selected as the Florida Sheriffs Association 2020 Dispatchers of the Year

Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John, Dispatcher Taylor McCathern, Dispatcher Brittany Wheeler, Jose Vasquez of L3Harris Technologies, and FSA President Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

The Florida Sheriffs Association is pleased to announce that Public Safety Telecommunicators Brittany Wheeler and Taylor McCathern of the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office have been selected as the 2020 Dispatchers of the Year. Each year, the award is presented at the FSA Winter Conference to an officer who has demonstrated exceptional service in the line of duty; this year, two dispatchers will be honored. The award is sponsored by L3Harris Technologies.

Wheeler and McCathern have demonstrated the true grit of a dispatcher in the 21st century. They have shown they are quick-witted, resourceful and diligent. It was those qualities and their heroic instincts that led to the saving of a Suwannee County man’s life. Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John recognized their efforts in September of 2019.

Wheeler and McCathern took a worried call from the son of a missing man in August 2019. He said his father left a good-bye letter on the bed and left. According to his panicked mother, her husband had been experiencing suicidal thoughts.

They were able to determine a location the man might have gone, but his wife could not recall the address of the vacant piece of land. The dispatchers acted quickly searched the Suwannee County’s Property Appraiser’s website, but their search returned zero results. Wheeler and McCathern turned to another form of technology, using the MapFlex software, and followed the woman’s directions turn by turn.

The dispatchers narrowed their searched once in the vicinity and sent Deputy Rashard Fleming to the scene. He found the missing man attempting to take his own life with a noose tied to tree limb. Deputy Fleming was able to prevent the Suwannee County husband and father from taking his own life. The man was placed under a Baker Act and transported to a mental health facility to receive help.

“This event could have had a very different outcome if it had not been for Taylor and Brittany’s professional training and their willingness to go the extra mile to help figure out where this man was,” Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John said. “These employees helped save the life of a resident who was in the midst of a mental health crisis.”

“If they hadn’t gone above and beyond, this man wouldn’t be here today,” St. John added. “I really want to honor them because of the great job they are both doing for this community.”

The Florida Sheriffs Association Dispatcher of the Year Award is proudly sponsored by L3 Harris Technologies.View the official award video:

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About L3Harris Technologies:
L3Harris is an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. We provide advanced defense and commercial technologies across air, land, sea, space and cyber domains. We bring speed, innovation and flawless execution together with our commitment to make the world more secure. Learn more at