O’Fallon Police Department 911 telecommunicator honored for life-saving actions

911 Telecommunicator Jared Runyan is uncomfortable with attention but his assistance in saving a life last summer had to be recognized.

A call came in about a suicidal subject in Fairview Heights. A young man had attempted to hang himself in his backyard. Officers who arrived on the scene were able to resuscitate him and he lived, said O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook, head of public safety.

Runyan said in the immediate time after the call came in and officers were able to arrive quickly and intervene, he was relieved they had a successful outcome.

“After the call was done, I didn’t think twice about what I did that day. We receive 9-1-1 calls daily where the actions taken by our telecommunicators, police officers, paramedics, and firefighters save lives and a vast majority of the calls will never be heard of,” he said.

Runyan was among other personnel from various department honored with a Life Saving Award for his quick thinking by the Southwestern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission and the Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association at their annual banquet last month.

When introducing the honoree at the Feb. 4 O’Fallon City Council meeting, Van Hook mentioned Runyan was a guy who didn’t like a fuss being made over him but complimented him any way.

“It takes a really special person to help in that position,” said Van Hook. “You have to quickly and calmly respond in a very quiet manner.”

Runyan prefers to shine the spotlight on his teammates, he said afterwards.

“I am very honored to have been recognized by SILEC for helping to save a life. I am also grateful to work for agencies that recognize the role the communications center can play in producing successful outcomes,” he said.

“I’m not really big on being recognized publicly. I prefer to do what I have been trained to do and know that I have positively impacted someone’s day,” Runyan said.

He has worked in 911 telecommunications for 10 years, the past eight with O’Fallon. He is currently a lead telecommunicator with Metro East Communicators, serving as a line supervisor.

“I answer emergency and non-emergency calls and dispatch the appropriate police, fire, EMS, or public works entity,” he said. “I am also a communications training officer and assist in the training of new hires.”

In January, Runyan was appointed as the fire chief of the East Side Volunteer Fire Department.

He has been with them for 13 years and is responsible for all aspects of the fire departments operations including responding to emergency and non-emergency calls, training, purchases, policies and procedures, maintenance of the apparatus and equipment, and any paperwork and documentation required by state or federal guidelines,

“I am fortunate to have a group of dedicated volunteers who are willing to help with many of the items listed to help distribute the load,” he said.

Runyan is happy to work in both fields.

“I love both jobs. Both have various challenges and can place you in high stress scenarios. Fortunately, I was trained by some really great people in both jobs which allows me to maintain my composure and provide the highest level of service possible for the situation at hand,” he said.

Church Member Encourages Runyan to Join Fire Department

Runyan joined the fire department after being encouraged by a member of his church, who was an assistant fire chief at another area fire department.

“He put the bug in my ear. I have always been intrigued by emergency services and decided to give it a try,” he said. “My passion for the fire department grew as my desire to help others was fulfilled.”

Then, after a few years with the fire department, Runyan was encouraged by fellow firefighters to apply to become a 911 telecommunicator.

“I was hired by the Collinsville Police Department and was able to further recognize my desire to help others before being hired by the O’Fallon Police Department in 2012,” he said.

Runyan grew up in a military family, first living in Nebraska and Colorado, then moving to Belleville in 1996. He graduated from Belleville East High School.

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