Salute the Badge: Riley County dispatchers shine in "South Pacific"

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW)-- Riley County Dispatcher Patty Noreiga had a plan to make her audition for a role in the musical South Pacific a hit.

I decided to bring some other dispatchers with me because I don't like to do anything alone, I like to bring a whole crowd with me," she said.

She brought along Isabelle Whitead and Braeylis Garcia, and each dispatcher landed a coveted spot in the production.

South Pacific recently wrapped it's run at the CK Hoover theater in Junction City early April. Noriega says it was the role of a lifetime, and Whitead says being on stage was a breath of fresh air--from her usual duties as overnight dispatcher.

"I love my job and what I do," Whitead said. There's always a place to do things out in the community.

The trio spent nights working at the Riley County dispatch center saving lives, then they prepared to change the world in a different way, through the stage.

Although Noriega and Whitead nabbed speaking roles, Garcia says playing as an orchestra violinist is similar to her day job.

"Even though I can't be seen, I can be heard," she said.

And just like under the bright lights, anything can happen on the phones as a dispatcher.

"You have to keep it rolling, same thing with dispatch, we could have all of our resources spread out, "Whitead said. "But when that call comes in, you have to find the resources to provide help to that additional call."

The ladies say South Pacific was an experience to remember, and even now that the curtain has fallen, their top notch performance doesn't stop.

"Just like we do in the law enforcement world," Noriega said. "We have that one thing in common that has bonded us, but we are reaching out beyond that."