April 11-17 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Public service and safety entities from all over the United States are participating in this recognition week in an effort to outwardly show appreciation for all the men and women who serve as public safety dispatchers.
The week serves as an opportune time to remind our residents in the Santa Clarita Valley of the hard working dispatchers that answer their calls for help and provide a direct link between the community and the responding deputies.
“Our public safety dispatchers at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station are a key element of what we do every day to protect our residents,” said Captain Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station. “Their quick actions under extreme pressure during life threatening emergencies help keep our deputies and the community safe. In 2009 our staff answered nearly 55,000 calls for service, including more than 5,000 emergency (9-1-1) calls,” he added.
In addition to the local recognition of our dispatchers, events are occurring all week long throughout Los Angeles County and the nation. During the week, Sheriff Leroy D. Baca will present the Department’s Public Response Dispatcher of the Year award to a department member at the Sheriff’s Communications Center in Los Angeles.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials would also like to take the opportunity this week to remind all residents that the 9-1-1 emergency telephone number is to be used only for life threatening emergencies, crimes in progress, or incidents that are quickly escalating and may result in violence.
Residents are encouraged not to call 9-1-1 for such things as loud music or party complaints, traffic information, non-injury traffic collisions, general questions or report calls. Also, immediately following a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, residents should not call the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station just to ask “What happened?” The phone lines are quickly inundated and should be reserved for those who have an immediate need for service. Residents should also program the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station’s main dispatch phone number, (661) 255-1121, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s main dispatch phone number for the Santa Clarita Valley, (661) 259-2111 into their cell phones.
When calling the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station with an emergency or other incident requiring the response of deputies, the caller should be prepared to provide the following information if at all possible:
- The nature of the problem
- The location of the problem
- The location and contact information of the caller reporting the problem
- Whether or not there are weapons involved, seen or accessible
- Business names, cross streets, and other area indicators or landmarks
- Descriptions of persons involved including: How many, sex, race, age, height, weight, hair/eye color, clothing, other physical and clothing indicators such as – glasses, mustache, tattoos, hat, jacket, shirt, shoes, etc.
- Description of vehicles involved including: Make, model, year, color, license plate number, body type, direction of travel, etc.
Remember, the dispatcher may cut you off in the middle of the conversation or sentence. They may even be abrupt and concise with you initially. This is necessary at times in order to immediately obtain information that is critical to the initial timely response. As the dispatcher is talking to you, they are multi-tasking, communicating with other personnel, entering in the call, utilizing communications systems and immediately starting the response of personnel to your incident or emergency. Dispatchers are trained to control the call and gather pertinent information as quickly as possible, because mere seconds can make the difference in the final outcome of the call. It is crucial that they control the conversation and the caller. Try to remain calm and patient with the dispatcher and be prepared to quickly and accurately provide the information they are requiring.
For information regarding career opportunities with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department or the position of a Public Response Dispatcher, call 1-800-233-7889, or visit the department’s website at www.lasd.org.