Jess Iacono isn't just a calm voice on the other end of the phone.
After spending nearly 22 years as a York County 911 dispatcher, she's been named the county's telecommunicator of the year for 2011.
Iacono, 41, didn't know about the honor until Friday afternoon, when the York County Department of Emergency Services handed out its annual awards.
Her co-workers chose her as dispatcher of the year because of her dedication and willingness to help others, and for consistently having perfect quality-assurance scores, county spokesman Carl Lindquist said.
Iacono said what makes the award special is that it was her peers who decided to recognize her.
"It makes me feel appreciated," she said.
Satisfying: Sometimes the job can be thankless, Iacono admitted. But that doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy the work, which sometimes can be very stressful.
"I really like my job," she said. "I like helping people. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction."
Iacono said York County's 911 dispatchers work as a close-knit team, a sentiment echoed nearly every year by previous winners. They are shoulders to lean on, sympathetic ears.
"We talk to each other a lot," she said, because only dispatchers really understand what they go through.
Iacono lives in York Township with her husband, Leonard Iacono, and their 7-year-old son, Maxwell. She said she tries hard not to take work stress home.
"I've gotten better about that over time," she said.
Top supervisor: Two of Iacono's colleagues also received awards Friday for their outstanding contributions in 2011.
Cheryl Emig, 41, was named 911 supervisor of the year for her approachability and ability to manage people fairly.
She started with the department 21 years ago as a dispatcher and enjoys the fact that the job brings something new every day.
"It makes you feel good, doing something important to help people," she said. "I feel very honored that my co-workers think so highly about me. ... It's always a team thing (for us)."
Emig lives in Dover Township with her husband, Matthew Emig. They have a 23-year-old son, Anthony Lloyd.
Top support person: Rena Aikins, 47, was named administrative support person of the year for coordinating matters between departments, being able to multi-task and for being a positive presence in the 911 Center.
The administrative assistant has been with the department for nearly six years and said she loves her job.
"I really admire what everyone here does," Aikins said. "I feel privileged to work alongside them. ... There's a lot of good people to work with -- a lot of good hearts."
She said she thinks the team atmosphere at the 911 Center is borne out of necessity.
"It makes the burden lighter," she said. "You can't do everything on your own."
Aikins lives in North Codorus Township with her husband, Dan Aikins. They have three children: Josiah, 17; Danielle, 20; and Josh, 22.
Life and death: Commissioner Chris Reilly, who presented the awards, said dispatchers are highly trained professionals who can make the difference between life and death.
They are compassionate, caring and efficient, he said.
President Commissioner Steve Chronister said he can't remember the last time he got a complaint about anyone at the 911 Center.
"You guys have really stepped it up," he said. "And we know you are doing a great job."
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at email@example.com, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.