Kayla O’Bryant, Communications Officer First Class for Hanover County Emergency Communications, has received the prestigious honor of Virginia APCO Public Safety Communications Telecommunicator of the Year Award.
The award was presented to her at the organization’s Spring Conference in Virginia Beach on May 19. O’Bryant was surprised because it had been kept a secret from her.
“I was completely floored,” she said. “I did not expect it at all.”
Kayla was recognized largely for her performance in coordinating the response to an event involving the State Police and Hanover Sheriff’s Office last year. The chase began at the Varina-Enon Bridge on I-295 and continued onto I-95 North before the suspects took an exit and crashed their car on Doswell Road. No one was injured and all of the suspects were apprehended. Kayla was the officer who was working on the tactical channel. Her nomination by Deputy Director Charlie Udriet praised Kayla for “her coordination of the massive amount of information that she had to handle from two separate agencies in order to keep the investigation seamless.”
A Louisa County native, Kayla often visited Hanover County with her parents unknowingly, particularly when shopping at the Food Lion in Montpelier.
“I’ve been coming to Hanover since I was a girl, I just didn’t know it,” she said with a laugh.
O’Bryant came to work for Hanover Emergency Communications in September 2016. She had previously worked part-time as a deputy sheriff in the Henrico County Jail but wanted a job where she felt she could make a more positive impact on people.
“I was looking for a job in 911,” she recalls, and Hanover was just the right size for her – not too big an operation. She had not worked in Communications but “I had some basic skills like typing and I figured they could teach me the rest.”
What she likes about her job is “the ability to make a difference” in the lives of the people who contact her, many of whom are experiencing a crisis.
“Sometimes things turn out badly, but sometimes we are able to turn it around,” she explains. “It has the ability to be incredibly rewarding. When I do my job well, I feel fulfilled.”
“Kayla always strives to make sure that callers receive the utmost customer service, regardless if it’s a high priority call or just a call or advice/information needed,” Udriet said. “Her overall work ethic and determination is not to just maintain her skills but to improve them and make them better…She is a great asset to our department and to the communications profession.”
“Kayla has the ability to soothe frustrated and unruly callers while helping them understand instructions that can save lives,” Udriet added. “She has a keen sense of empathy and understanding, with an ability to comprehend complex situations – always maintaining her composure in difficult situations.”
Kayla also enjoys working with Hanover’s first responders, including the Sheriff’s Office and Fire/EMS. She even met the man who has become her husband. Mike O’Bryant has been a Deputy with the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office since 2014.
It’s the second big honor in a month for Kayla O’Bryant. She was recognized in April as 2021 Communications Officer of the Year for Hanover County Emergency Communications.
APCO stands for Association of Public Safety Communications Officials and the Virginia Chapter represents over 1,000 members, the third largest APCO chapter in the nation. The award Kayla received is called the Stephen Souder Communications Officer of the Year award.