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Local News

Q+A: Millie Rowe

Joliet emergency dispatcher is Telecommunicator of the Year

Millie Rowe, Joliet and Will County's Telecommunicator of the Year.
Millie Rowe, Joliet and Will County's Telecommunicator of the Year.

Emergency dispatcher Millie Rowe was recently named Telecommunicator of the Year by both the City of Joliet and Will County. She has been a dispatcher for 24 years.

Stanley: What brought you to Joliet and a dispatching career?

Rowe: I’m from Chicago. I just applied for the job since (Joliet had) affordable housing. I didn’t know the city. I had no clue what it was like here. I came in for the testing when I first saw the room – which was in the city hall building at the time – and watched them work. I was in total awe. They knew all this stuff.

Stanley: Was shift work an adjustment for you?

Rowe: I worked midnights for my first 13 years. I slept from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and you always feel like you’re “off” a day. I’d have breakfast in the afternoon. Vacations can (affect) that. If I went to bed at 8 p.m. I’d wake up at midnight and be wide awake.

Stanley: Any early calls that have stuck with you?

Rowe: When I was pretty new I took a call from a guy who had just witnessed a homicide and was following the suspect in his car. I stayed on the phone with him while he followed the guy all the way to Ottawa.

Stanley: What’s the most difficult part of dealing with emergency calls?

Rowe: The times that you can’t help. And we never find out the endings to most calls cause you’re right onto the next one.

Stanley: What’s the biggest misconception about emergency dispatch?

Rowe: That we know the answer to everything. ... I mean, we’re close, but ... come on.

Stanley: What do you do when you aren’t working?

Rowe: I’m busy with my family – my husband, Phil, my daughters, Karina and Evie, and four grandchildren. I like scrapbooking and we’ve started traveling. I’ve been to Europe and now I’m going to do (all) the states.

Stanley: Are you curious how emergency calls are handled in other states?

Rowe: Everywhere I go, I find the police department and ask (for a tour). No one has let me in yet, but I try every time.

Stanley: Any other plans?

Rowe: I’m retiring next April; 25 years is enough for me.

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