CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As a dispatcher for Medic 911 Monique Woolfolk has heard it all.
“There are a lot of gunshots, assaults, stuff like that,” she said. “Uptown Charlotte at nighttime is always a hot spot.”
Woolfolk is one of the many dispatchers truly on the front lines of an emergency. Dispatchers handle every type of emergency imaginable.
“They can do a ton of things that can mitigate life threatening situations right there in the moment over the phone,” said Matthew Lewis, Clinical Improvement Supervisor for Medic.
Things like telling people how to handle seizures, how to deliver CPR, what to do in case of a stroke.
“Over the phone you have maybe 5 or 10 minutes with these people and it’s at their worst moment,” Lewis added. “A lot of times it's the worst day of their life. They’re high energy, very distraught and you have to deal with that over the phone knowing you can’t actually see them or touch them to help them.”
But Woolfolk handles the stress on the job with grace and compassion. Lewis nominated Woolfolk for the Hyundai Hometown Hero award.
“I would describe her as hard working. As a leader. As someone people look to for guidance. She puts her best foot forward and is a role model for coworkers, her family and children,” he said.
Woolfolk, who is a single mom to three kids, works the night shift then goes home and clocks in as a virtual teacher.
“I home-school all three of the kids,” she said. “Two preschoolers and a third grader and I'm in school myself and I work full-time. On a regular workday I probably get about three hours of sleep. Four if I’m lucky,” she said and laughed.
WCNC Charlotte’s Sarah French coordinated with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and Medic to surprise Woolfolk with news she won the Hyundai Hometown Hero Award. Our call was specially routed to Woolfolk's headset in order to not interfere with any real emergencies.
As the winner, Wollfolk received a 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe from the Charlotte Area Hyundai Dealers.
Woolfolk, who thought she was being interviewed for a story about a day in the life of a 911 dispatcher, was shocked when she learned she was the winner. But she burst into tears when she learned she won a new car.
"I'm humbled and honored to be a part of it," said Anane Thabiti from Modern Hyundai as he handed Woolfolk the keys to her new 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe.
Woolfolk was overwhelmed by the news and gave Thabiti a big hug.
"Thank you," she said through tears.
Coworkers applauded Woolfolk as she walked toward her new car. Her kids were also there for the surprise.
“It doesn’t just show that she's a good mom, that she’s hard working. It shows that she has a lot of internal drive to be able to balance all of that at work and at home and be successful at both,” Lewis said.
As for Woolfolk, she had one message for everyone, “I just want everyone to be mindful of 911 operators. Not everyone is fond of the 911 system, but everyone is human and I definitely come to 911 to help.”