Public Information Officer
It was perhaps the ultimate example of multi-tasking when a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office telecommunicator dispatched more than 30 units to a prolonged search for a missing man, then ended her shift and found the man while driving home from work. Telecommunicator Tracy Koehler was recognized by Sheriff Ben Johnson Tuesday with a commendation for her efforts that led to the safe recovery of the 63-year-old man.
It was early in the morning on Oct. 6 when a man visiting from Tennessee walked away from the residence. Worried family members reported him missing at 10:22 a.m., fearing for his safety because he was suffering from early signs of dementia along with several other serious medical ailments. A total of 36 units, including patrol, K-9, investigators and a helicopter were dispatched to the call to assist in the search. And it was Koehler’s job to keep track of all of those units and relay pertinent information to the field. As if that wasn’t enough, Koehler dispatched 24 other calls for service while the protracted search continued into the afternoon. “Telecommunicator Koehler did a phenomenal job of maintaining communications and documentation during her tour of duty,” states the citation that Sheriff Johnson presented to Koehler on Tuesday along with a commendation bar.
By 4 p.m. that afternoon, with the man still missing, Koehler’s shift at the Communications Center had ended and it was time for her to go home. As she drove south on I-95, Koehler spotted a man with blue jeans, a red flannel shirt and a red hat -- the same description as the missing man -- leaning against a bridge abutment. Sure enough, it was the missing man. Koehler immediately notified the Communications Center, and within minutes, a deputy had recovered the man -- a bit confused and with his blood sugar dangerously dropping, but otherwise unharmed. The deputy drove the man back to DeLand so he could be checked out by paramedics and reunited with his grateful and relieved family. It was all in a day’s work -- and then some -- for Koehler. “The actions taken that day by TC Koehler exhibit the highest standards of the law enforcement profession, bringing honor to herself and to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office,” states the citation.
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151