“We can get public safety personnel there sooner without having to wait for a translator to get on the line,” Brockus said. Vega’s award comes at a time when the Sheriff’s Department has seven open positions for dispatchers, a problem that has been ongoing for years. “We’ve been running with a vacancy of about 25 (percent) to 30 percent,” Crombach said. “There was a time when we were at about 50 percent.” The department provides training for the jobs, with salaries starting at $51,000 a year, so officials hope a new recruitment campaign will attract the candidates Ventura County needs. Brockus said the dispatcher’s work is personally satisfying, but only certain people can handle the demands. “We need people who can multitask to the extreme,” she said. “It’s extremely stressful.” One of those people is Vega, who co-workers say remains genuinely empathetic with callers and makes an extra effort to provide them with comfort and assistance. During some of the most critical situations, she is quick to jump in and assist the other dispatchers. She works more than her share of overtime to ensure that vacant shifts are covered, her supervisors said. “She lifts the atmosphere of the room every day with her smile,” Brockus said. “She gets along extremely well with all of her co-workers and supervisors.” [email protected] (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Danita L. Crombach, communications manager for the Sheriff’s Department, said she was thrilled with Vega’s selection. “She is very well-deserving of this award. She is very caring and compassionate, not just with the public but with the deputies and her co-workers,” Crombach said. “Her entire team knows that they can count on her. She is a very humble person, but she is very good at what she does. We are very lucky to have her.” Vega, 28, has been working at the dispatch center since December 2003. She said the honor was especially important to her because it came from people she works with. “It’s rewarding just to help a person calm down and reassure them that help is on the way,” she said. Erin Brockus, dispatch supervisor at the Ventura County Government Center in Ventura, said Vega’s work to help other dispatchers learn basic Spanish is a good example of her commitment. VENTURA – Araceli Vega always brings a positive attitude to a job that would make most people too nervous to smile. When calls come in to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department’s dispatch center of prowlers or robberies or shootings, Vega calmly directs deputies to the scene, never panicking, never losing her cool. And because Spanish-speakers sometimes dial 911 and get dispatchers who only speak English, Vega has volunteered to teach her co-workers Spanish, just to make things run a little more smoothly. For her efforts, her co-workers recently named the Oxnard woman the county’s Dispatcher of the Year.