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Dispatcher's calm actions during shootout earn her state honor

March 4th, 2014 9:22 pm by Max Hrenda

Dispatcher's calm actions during shootout earn her state honor

Anna Marie Greene receives her award for Dispatcher of the Year during a THP awards ceremony on Feb. 27. (Photo Contributed)

Moments after watching a car crash into two trees off Interstate 26, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Jeff Appleba said he was taking cover behind his own cruiser while the vehicle’s driver fired on him.

While Appleba returned fire, at the other end of his radio THP Dispatcher Anna Marie Greene was coordinating other law enforcement agencies to assist him, and letting him know that help was on the way. After a time, Appleba and his backup subdued the gunman, and no lives were lost. Once the situation had concluded, Greene resumed her duties fielding transmissions from other THP troopers.

Citing that incident, which occurred Jan. 3, 2013, on Thursday night the THP named Greene as 2013’s dispatcher of the year during a special awards ceremony in Nashville.

“I was totally shocked,” Greene said. “It felt good, but I was caught off-guard. I was not expecting it.”

For the past 18 years, Greene, an Erwin native and Jonesborough resident, has worked for the THP’s Fall Branch District, a 13-county district whose service area includes Washington, Sullivan, Carter and Unicoi counties. When asked what she has enjoyed most about her 18 years of dispatching for THP, Greene summed it up in two words: “Helping people.”

“It means a lot to me to have done something good to help somebody out,” she said.

For Appleba, who has since been promoted to sergeant in THP’s Knoxville District, Greene’s desire to help people — especially her troopers — has been felt through her radio transmissions.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to have anybody else on duty that night,” Appleba said. “When she retires, the highway patrol is going to feel the loss.”

With regard to the shooting incident, Appleba said Greene’s skill as a dispatcher was never more evident.

“I felt that she handled the situation extremely well and professionally,” Appleba said. “She had been calm in handling the situation and getting help to where I was. She made all the right choices and all the right calls that night.”

Greene’s ability to keep calm during the shooting was named as one of the main reasons she won the award. In a news release, THP agents wrote that “Greene’s calm and confident demeanor was reassuring and helped lead Trooper Appleba back home to his family at the end of the day.”

According to Greene, getting him back home was her ulitmate goal.

“The main focus was his safety,” Greene said. “The calmer I was, the calmer he was.”

Whether Greene was awarded for her grace under pressure or her general all-around performance, for Appleba, the award symbolizes something he has always touted — that Greene is the best.

“We have great dispatchers in the Tennessee Highway Patrol,” he said. “I’m not being biased due to the fact that Anne was on duty that night. I’ve always said it; she’s the best dispatcher the highway patrol has ever had.”

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