O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon dispatch center supervisor knows how to handle emergencies

Daryl Ostendorf talks with telecommunicator Carmen Kuhl in the O’Fallon Telecommunications Center.
Daryl Ostendorf talks with telecommunicator Carmen Kuhl in the O’Fallon Telecommunications Center.

Daryl Ostendorf is a go-to guy — a steady influence in times of emergency and an enthusiastic employee who enjoys showing visitors the city’s nerve center.

Supervisor of O’Fallon’s Support Services, Ostendorf oversees the dispatch center for EMS, fire and police.

“I love it here. I have never felt so welcome at any of my other jobs. The professionalism of the entire organization from the mayor down is unsurpassed. The department and city are very proactive and supportive of community and staff alike,” he said. “In the nearly five years I have been here, there has never been a day that I did not want to come to work.”

Currently, Ostendorf is preparing for the state-mandated consolidation that will combine the Fairview Heights operations with O’Fallon on Jan. 1.

The O’Fallon-Fairview Heights Communications Center will have 71 monitors.

“Between now and Jan. 1, we will add all of Fairview Heights and French Village proper,” he said.

Staff will increase from eight to 12 full-time, and there will be more part-time positions as well.

The state forced reduction of PSAPs or Public Safety Answering Points from eight to four locally. Belleville, East St. Louis, O’Fallon and St. Clair County will each be hubs. The goal is to increase public safety, emergency response time and streamline costs.

The center, housed in the O’Fallon Public Safety Building on Seven Hills Road, has covered all of O’Fallon and Shiloh proper. It was recently renovated to include Fairview Heights.

“We have 200 camera views we can monitor,” he said.

The technological advancements in communications today are remarkable, and Ostendorf thrives on mastering the “nuts and bolts.”

A computer-aided dispatch system helps accurately pinpoint landline and wireless phones.

They also pay attention to weather with a dedicated monitor. An informational television channel provides news updates.

Soon, they will use Auto Vehicle Location, so that if an officer is on a call, and hasn’t been heard from, they can find out where the vehicle is.

“It’s for the officers’ safety, and we’re really excited about that,” he said. “I know they think I’m nerdy about all this stuff, but I love all the things that we can do.”

He said the newest development in 911 is to allow texting and video – Next Generation 911 will be in O’Fallon’s future.

“There’s always a set of new challenges,” he said.

Extensive training is key, too, and he is very proud of their certified staff.

“The advantage we have is in our people. If they’re not there, if they’re not trained, if they’re not good, then we’re of no use to anyone. We wouldn’t be able to make a difference,” he said.

O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham described Daryl as a “great guy.”

“Daryl is not only an essential part of our Public Safety Department in his role as supervisor of the City of O’Fallon’s Support Services, but he was also instrumental in helping the City of O’Fallon retain our 911 dispatch center. His hard work and dedication is a vital asset to the O’Fallon Community,” Graham said.

Last month, Ostendorf was appointed as Region VI Director of the National Emergency Number Association, the only professional organization solely focused on 911 policy, technology, operations and education issues.

He represents Region VI, which includes 21 Illinois counties: Crawford, Lawrence, Wabash, Edwards, Richland, Jasper, Effingham, Clay, Wayne, Fayette, Marion, Jefferson, Montgomery, Bond, Clinton, Washington, Madison, St. Clair, Monroe, Jersey and Calhoun.

“I was extremely honored and excited to be appointed to this position. The director serves as a representative for the interests of all INENA members residing in the region. This will be through reports to the board of directors and dissemination of information back to the membership,” he said.

He also continues to serve on the Telecommunicator Certification Committee that is working with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to create a statewide telecommunicator training curriculum as well as a statewide certification program for telecommunicators.

Ostendorf grew up in Smithton and graduated from Freeburg High School. Starting out in retail management, he moved over to dispatching after spotting an ad for the Swansea Police Department.

He went to work for St. Clair County, helping with ADA-compliance training, and worked in radio systems support, ushering in the CENCOM 911 program.

When his position was eliminated because of budget cuts, he fortunately found out O’Fallon had an opening and was hired.

He and his wife Patty, a dispatcher with MedStar Ambulance, have three children: Courtney, 26, who is married and lives in Troy; Brandi, 22, who lives in Marissa; and Dylan, 18, who is home in O’Fallon.

Being with family and friends is his favorite way to unwind.

He also takes his Harley-Davidson motorcycle out for a spin, and this time of year, has been known to don a Santa Claus suit and make appearances.

His spare time is limited these days because he is working on a bachelor’s degree in business at Lindenwood University, in the accelerated program.

“I’m usually writing papers or studying when I’m off work,” he said.

But when he’s at work, he’s in the zone, fully committed to public safety.

His dedication is obvious when he gives a tour of the center. The staff provides tours for Scout troops, students and other interested groups.

“I love the kids coming through. We do a lot of school tours. The first thing I ask the younger kids — ‘Who knows the number of 911?”

Q: Do you have words to live by?

A: “Every day is a dream and every meal a feast. And you miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

Q: Whom do you most admire?

A: “A man well known in the 911 industry, Norm Forshee. Before he passed, he provided great opportunities and lessons helping me be who I am today.”

Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?

A: “President-elect Donald Trump. Long before his bid for presidency, I enjoyed Trump on ‘The Apprentice’ and how he handled business in both a professional and charitable manner.”

Q: What is the last book that you read?

A: “My philosophy textbook. I am currently enrolled at Lindenwood University in the accelerated program.”

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?

A: “Most of my spare time is spent studying. However, I can’t pass up an opportunity to ride my Harley or my scooter.”

Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?

A: “Highly organized disarray and clutter — always.”

Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?

A: “Join the military to fly helicopters — Apaches to be exact.”

Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?

A: “Being a motivator. I like to find people doing things right and drawing attention to it.”

Q: What irritates you most?

A: “Millennial attitudes. The ideals of hard work and dedication have been replaced with entitlements and appreciation.”

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

A: “Well, nowadays they call it the classic station — normally the ’80s, but I often switch to NOW96.3 for the current hits.”

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: “The list is long, but if I had to choose just the ‘most’ it would have to be the team atmosphere.”

Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?

A: “After making sure family was well taken care of, I would have several foundations and make considerable contributions to different organizations or charities.”

Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?

A: “Harrison Ford.”

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?

A: “I would have a survival kit, including my knife, fishing hooks, Firestarter and most importantly my support film crew from Survivorman.”