It was a party —  an informal party, and a working party — as first responders, family members and other visitors helped Brownwood’s 9-1-1 dispatchers commemorate National Public Safety Telecommunications Week Wednesday afternoon.
    The phone calls and radio conversations between dispatchers and first responders out on the streets didn’t stop as visitors were treated to food and desserts, and dispatchers proudly displayed the large, brightly colored “Alice In Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party” — themed decorations that wrapped the dispatch center.
    Dispatchers decorate the dispatch center for a contest sponsored annually by the West Central Texas Council of Governments during the national recognition week. This year, there was no contest — but dispatchers decided to decorate anyway.
    Brownwood Police Chief Terry Nichols prepared to read a resolution from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, but first, Nichols reminded visitors to keep their voices down if they saw a red light become illuminated. That would indicate a dispatcher was on a 9-1-1 call, Nichols said.
    Nichols read the governor’s resolution, which described emergency dispatches as “unseen first responders” who provide critical assistance during times of great need.
    “I, personally, as chief want to say thank you for the work that you do,” Nichols told the dispatchers. “You are the unsung heroes and you are appreciated. This is your week, and I think it’s absolutely incredible what you folks do.”
    Communications manager Deedra Molotsky said the decoration contest didn’t happen because “everybody dropped out. We win by proxy. We decided to go forth with it because we all enjoy it.”
    Molotsky introduced dispatcher Jonna Dodd, who used her artistic ability to draw the decorations on cardboard. “I drew everything and (dispatchers) helped paint, and I kind of did the finishing touches, helped get everything together,” Dodd said.
    It took two or three months to complete the decorations, Dodd said, because they had to work around their responsibilities of answering radio and 9-1-1 calls.