Tenacity in his life-and-death career earns Taylorsville resident a national awardDec 04, 2022 11:26AM ● By Carl Fauver
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
It was an odd set of circumstances that put Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson into her car this fall, bound for Summit County to present a national award to one of the city’s newer residents.
First, it required Spencer Harrison to be living in the city – something he’d only been doing a few months.
Second, it required Harrison to be highly thought of by Overson’s granddaughter, now living in Virginia.
Third, it required a professional organization with a peculiar name – The Tenacious Telecommunicator (thetenacioustelecommunicator.com) to create the award.
And fourth, it required another former colleague of Spencer’s to nominate him for the honor, online, from her new job – AT A RESEARCH STATION IN ANTARCTICA.
All of these unusual conditions came together for Summit County Sheriff’s Department 9-1-1 dispatcher Spencer Harrison to receive the first-ever Tenacious Telecommunicator of the Year award.
“I was just at work one day and the mayor walked in – I had no idea I had won this award,” Harrison said. “It turned out, one of the people on (The Tenacious Telecommunicator) award committee is someone I had worked with in Utah County. Apparently, when the committee started to discuss who should present the award to me, Kiera Whittier said ‘well, my grandmother is the mayor of Taylorsville.’ So that’s how Mayor Overson ended up doing it.”
The mayor says it was an out-of-the-blue request from Kiera, who now lives more than 2,000 miles away.
“Kiera now works as a dispatcher in Virginia,” Overson said. “She called me and said, ‘this guy won an award and they are looking for someone to present it to him. Since he lives in Taylorsville, I told (the award committee) I would ask you if you’d present it.’ And I told her, of course I would. It was fun for me to surprise Spencer. He was a very nice guy.”
As it turns out, Harrison has not been a Taylorsville resident long. After growing up in Heber City – and graduating from Wasatch High School in 2007 – Spencer had worked for a couple of different 9-1-1 emergency response agencies. Until July of this year, he’d been living in West Jordan.
“I just wanted to be a little more centrally-located (in the Salt Lake Valley),” he explained. “I’m not married and have no kids. I live with my dog Mason. It takes about 35 minutes to drive up to the Summit County Justice Complex in Silver Creek, where the dispatch center is.”
According to their website, The Tenacious Telecommunicator award recognizes individuals who:
· Maintain professional competence and always seek new educational opportunities.
· Build trust by demonstrating integrity and reliability.
· Exhibit passion and have a vision for the future.
· Evolve and adapt to the ever-changing needs in the industry.
· Create a community that values diversity and teamwork.
· Remain tenacious and will never stop pursuing their dreams.
And how did the organization first learn about Spencer? That’s where Antarctica comes into the picture.
“A few years ago, I worked with Rebekah Johnston as a dispatcher in Provo,” Harrison explained. “I trained her there. Later she left that job to go to work for the National Science Foundation at the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica.”
Turns out Rebekah may have moved nearly 9,000 miles away – but when she learned about the Tenacious Telecommunicator award she remembered Harrison well.
“Spencer’s career glitters with examples of his incredible leadership,” Johnston wrote in the award application. “He has actively sought out training that has enriched both his knowledge and the knowledge base of his center. He does things not because it benefits him, but because he is passionate about progress in the dispatch world.”
Winning this award is not the first time Harrison has been recognized by his colleagues as a leader in their field.
“I have been president of the Utah Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (utahnena.org) for five years,” he added. “We have about 300 members, dispatchers from St. George to Logan. We are a lobbying group. I host a couple of training sessions each year and organize an annual fundraiser to raise money to help offset dispatcher training costs.”
Harrison says he’s proud to have won the first-ever Tenacious Telecommunicator of the Year award. You can bet he’s also proud to be highly thought of for his diligence and professionalism by former colleagues, 2,000 miles away in Virginia and 8,815 miles away in Antarctica.