Work Behind Scenes Honoured

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:37 p.m. October 16, 2014

Communications colleagues from across the province honoured one of their own.

Two women stand in an office environment
Tracy Finn and Karen Dmytryshyn of Communications Services

This year’s National Emergency Number Association (NENA) Ontario chapter Memorial President’s Award winner is Toronto Police Service’s Karen Dmytryshyn. She is the first TPS member to receive a NENA award. She was nominated by Tracy Finn, a NENA member and a colleague at  Communications Services

“I was very flattered that a co-worker would even nominate me,” says Dmytryshyn, 30-year Service member. “I was thrilled, honoured and a little surprised… I like being in the background.

“A lot of people don’t realize what we do, being in a supporting role… we are big behind the scenes but often go unnoticed,” Dmytryshyn says, noting the work she does is part of a team effort. “I do my job, not in isolation, I do it and I learn from others too.” 

The award is presented annually in memory of Peter Gallant, the President of the NENA Ontario Chapter at the time of his passing. 

A successful nominee is described as one who possesses characteristics such as an eager learner, good sense of humour but always displays professionalism and respect for others, someone who loves their job and preforms it without any pretence, someone who displays great empathy, good intuitive sense and good listening skills, someone who is a proud member of their agency or department and remains humble in their accomplishments and someone who finds helping others to be a personal reward.

“Karen met the criteria. I thought she was a good fit,” says Finn. “She is always eager to learn, she works hard, goes above and beyond her duty and is passionate about what she does.” 

She is always eager to learn, she works hard, goes above and beyond her duty and is passionate about what she does

Currently Dmytryshyn’s role is Voice Radio Systems Coordinator, but her career began in 1982 as a call taker/dispatcher. The University of Toronto graduate was waiting for a social work program to be launched so she could pursue a Master’s degree, but her professors told her it might be a while. Dmytryshyn decided to look for work between degrees and a neighbour, a staff sergeant at the Service, recommended she apply for a job. The role was meant to be a clerical one but, after applying, she was asked if she would be interested in Communications. She said yes and has never looked back.

Her career at the Service would take her from a call taker/dispatcher to Tape Analysis (now called Audio Data Systems) and then to Voice Radio Systems. 

“Karen has the corporate history, the knowledge and the recall,” says Finn, of Dmytryshyn’s long career at Communications, adding she has a historic knowledge of many sections at Communications Services. 

Dmytryshyn also has strong technical knowledge, having worked in Audio Data Systems and Voice Radio Systems. 

“She just seems to get that flow, that technical understanding, she just gets it,” says Finn. 

Communications has been my home. We’re very much a family here, dedicated and very supportive of one another.

Dmytryshyn has overseen and been involved in many updates of technology in her three decades of work, noting that typewriters were once used for transcription before computers. 

As a supervisor at Audio Data Systems, Dmytryshyn the Service was getting ready to move to a new voice logging system – the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system that calltakers and dispatchers use to enter information about an incident. She worked with Information Technology Services and developed a CAD report system. 

“Simply put, it’s an extraction tool that has everything for front-end users to look at on CAD,” explains Dmytryshyn. This model is still the best means of extracting information and a variation of it is still being used to this day by the Service. 

While working at Audio Data Systems, Dmytryshyn also had to testify in court many times. She has testified in cases such as car accidents to assaults to domestic violence cases and even homicides. 

“It is insightful, you get to see the court process… interesting to see that aspect of the justice system,” she says.

Today, as Coordinator Voice Radio Systems, Dmytryshyn is busy working on the Service’s new Voice Radio System. 

“I am looking forward to completing our new Voice Radio System,” says Dmytryshyn, “We are going from analog to digital so our communication will be more secure.” This transition, meant to be completed end of the year, has Dmytryshyn and her team working long hours smoothing out technical problems. Ever pragmatic, Dmytryshyn doesn’t go into technical details of how the transition from analog to digital is, rather, she says “our end-users need to know when they push that button and talk – it works.”

“This is the beauty of the award,” says Finn, of rewarding support staff who work so hard behind the scenes. “There are not enough awards to go around for the great people at Communications.” 

Dmytryshyn agrees it is a special place to work because of her colleagues. 

“Communications has been my home. We’re very much a family here, dedicated and very supportive of one another. That’s what I like,” she says. 

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