Bryan Co. dispatcher wins state award after dealing with personal tragedy

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BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- In May, 911 Dispatcher Amber Cendejas took an emergency call about a teenager who over-dosed on prescription drugs.

It was her son.

"I know loss happens every day. But I never thought it'd happen to me," Cendejas said.

She said she hit rock bottom, wondering if she could keep going.

"That was a serious point in my career as to whether or not I wanted to do this," she said.

She spent the next two months on medical leave, wrestling with the decision on whether or not to continue with her career as a dispatcher.

But something happened when she came back that solidified her choice - she was named state EMS dispatcher of the year.

"That was it. That was the spark," she said. "It was to my amazement."

She later found out Bryan County EMS nominated her for the award.

"She was nominated because of her performance here. And because of her performance in spite of her hardships that she had had," said Director Joe Barrett. "She carried on with her job and continued to do an outstand performance."

The 15-year dispatch veteran said she's overwhelmed to receive the award.

"To know that my peers accept me and honor me by calling me their dispatcher of the year really makes me happy," she said.

Cendejas said she's proud to bring back the award to the county she loves to serve.

"Our police, fire and EMS here, it'd be hard for any other agencies to beat our family connection that we share," she said.

Cendajas said the tragedy is still fresh - a daily struggle.

But she knows this is where she belongs. And she has her family's support.

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