Woman who helped SFPD officer shot in head named Dispatcher of the Year

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A San Francisco 911 dispatcher was just named Dispatcher of the Year for her actions the night San Francisco police officer Kevin Downs was shot in the head. (KGO)

A San Francisco woman was just named Dispatcher of the Year for her actions the night an officer was shot.

EXCLUSIVE: SFPD officer shot in head makes miraculous recovery

He could have died, but he didn't.

"There was definitely somebody with a greater power watching me that night," said dispatcher Janet Atchan.

That night, there was. For Officer Kevin Downs, it was a 911 dispatcher.

"It went all bad," Atchan said. "But it started with just a routine call."

On Oct. 14, Downs was shot as he responded to a 911 call at a shopping mall. His assailant, a mentally disturbed man, shot him in the head and missed a major artery in his brain by one centimeter; the diameter of a fingertip.

Atchan is a 25-year veteran, but never had she heard the call "officer shot."

She was scared.

"You just kind of don't believe it when it happens," Atchan told ABC7 News. "But you know you have to stay calm and continue to do your job."

RELATED: San Francisco police officer shot in head narrowly escapes fatal injury

It happened in the last hour of her shift, but she stayed on throughout the night, making sure Downs was quickly transported to the hospital. Then she coordinated with the responding officers in their search for the suspect, who was cornered and fatally shot.

Later that night at a debriefing with first responders, when Atchan began to speak, Downs' partner interrupted.

"As soon as I spoke he goes, 'Oh my God, it's that voice of the angel,'" Atchan recalls.

"I'm doing well, the mobility's back." In a February, exclusive interview with ABC7 News, Downs said he's almost completely recovered.

Atchan still remembers the rush of emotions when it was all over that night, "My hands were shaking, trembling and I just started crying," she said. "You know, and that had never happened before."

RELATED: SFPD reveals photo of gun used in shooting of officer

As a result of her efforts, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors honored Atchan for her work on Tuesday by naming her Dispatcher of the Year.

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police officer injuredpolicecrimeinvestigationSFPDofficer involved shootingofficer-involved shootingpolice-involved shooting911 callsan francisco board of supervisorsSan Francisco
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