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For Immediate Release:
December 8, 2011

Peel Honours Emergency Communicators of the Year During 9-1-1 Awareness Week

BRAMPTON, ON. (Dec. 8, 2011) – Peel Regional Council presented Tanya Rourke from Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services, Karen Ballentyne from Ambulance Communications, and Rita Poetzsch from Peel Regional Police with the prestigious Paul Schram Memorial Award today for providing professional, quick and efficient service. 

Regional Council also proclaimed Dec. 12-16 as 9-1-1 Awareness Week to educate and remind residents about the appropriate use of 9-1-1.

Each year during 9-1-1 Awareness Week, Peel’s outstanding emergency communicators are recognized for excelling in their daily responsibilities.  The Paul Schram Memorial Award is named in memory of the late Paul Schram, who was instrumental in developing 9-1-1 service in Peel.

“This gives us opportunity to honour and showcase our more than 240 emergency communicators in Peel Region who provide a vital link between the public and paramedic, police and fire services,” said Regional Chair Emil Kolb. “Their quick thinking, while faced with urgent and often difficult calls, helps to ensure Peel residents get the assistance they need in an emergency situation when every second counts.”

9-1-1 should only be used for life-threatening emergencies such as a medical emergency, a crime in progress, or a fire. This way, Peel residents can help ensure paramedic, police and fire services are available to those who really need them. In 2010, emergency communicators responded to 353,749 calls to 9-1-1, ensuring necessary emergency services were provided to residents across Peel.

For Peel residents who do not speak English, emergency communicators quickly connect to a 9-1-1 telephone translation service that is available in over 150 different languages.

Residents are encouraged to contact their cellular or Internet service provider if unsure about how 9-1-1 works with a particular communication device (e.g. cell phone or Blackberry).

For non-emergencies, when the safety of people or property is not at immediate risk, residents are asked to call their local police, fire or paramedic service. Visit “Facts and Tips” at peelregion.ca/911 for a list of non-emergency numbers.

About the Paul Schram Memorial Award Recipients

Tanya Rourke, Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services
Tanya has been employed with Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services since July 11, 2005, and became an Acting Officer with the Joint Fire Communications Centre in 2010. Tanya is an optimistic role model, confident in nature and respected by her co-workers. She actively participates in the training of staff and does so with great enthusiasm. Her excellent work ethic and attendance shows her commitment to Fire Services and Tanya’s initiative to improve is evident through self development with continuous education.

Karen Ballentyne, Ambulance Communications
Karen has been employed as an Ambulance Communications Officer since 2004.  She has consistently demonstrated a willingness to contribute to her workplace through peer support and diligence to her assignments. She continues to perform her duties at an exceptional level while performing a high volume of work. Karen always brings a positive and cheery attitude to work and always shows a “patient first” philosophy. She is not afraid to challenge norms and actively seeks improvements in our service model. 

Rita Poetzsch, Peel Regional Police
Rita Poetzsch has been a member of the Peel Regional Police for approximately 32 years. She tirelessly gives her time and knowledge for the betterment of the Communications Centre and this police service overall.  Rita has handled thousands of 9-1-1 calls of every nature with the utmost professionalism.  While her calls span the full spectrum of emotion and attitude, Rita always maintains her composure, understanding her job to save lives as the priority.  Rita is the “go-to” person within the centre and is always ready with an answer even after hours. She has committed to the life of a 9-1-1 communicator and has given her all to the position and development of future communicators.

The Regional Municipality of Peel was incorporated in 1974 on the principle that certain community and infrastructure services are most cost-effectively administered over a larger geographic area. The Region of Peel serves more than one million residents in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the town of Caledon.

For more information on the Region of Peel, please call 905-791-7800, or visit peelregion.ca.



Mei Ling
Communication Co-ordinator
Region of Peel
905-791-7800, ext. 4575

Carroll Francis
Supervisor, Service Delivery
Region of Peel
905-791-7800, ext. 6505

Communication Services, 10 Peel Centre Dr., Brampton, ON L6T 4B9
Phone: 905-791-7800, Fax: 905-791-0595, e-mail



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