The challenging work of public safety telecommunicators was acknowledged this week during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.
According to a Sheriff’s Department release, telecommunicators efforts to protect the public are heard but not seen every day when members of the community call their local sheriff’s or police station seeking help.
Dispatchers and 9-1-1 operators are the ‘behind the scenes’ link between those in need and those that can help.
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“The employees who work tirelessly in our communications centers are oftentimes the unseen heroes on the front line. They provide critical support and are our first line of defense in an emergency,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.
Dispatchers continue to adapt to new circumstances, implement new technologies and help safe countless lives. While it is the officer or firefighter who arrives on a scene of an emergency, it is the dispatch personnel who first handles the often frantic call from an injured party, a frightened eyewitness or other involved citizen.
Duties can range from contacting fire, ambulance or other emergency services and calming distraught callers to looking up vehicle identification numbers, plate numbers, driver license numbers and running checks for wanted subjects.
With the volume of calls dispatchers handle, the public is offered these reminders on behalf of all first responders: stay calm, be prepared to provide detailed information and respond to a dispatcher’s questions, and listen carefully and follow any directions given by the dispatcher.
If you accidentally dial 9-1-1, do not hang up because the call still goes through to the dispatchers. Stay on the line and advise the dispatcher that you do not have an emergency. This saves the call center a lot of time, because dispatchers do attempt to return abandoned 9-1-1 calls.
“The dispatchers and all emergency personnel should be commended for their selflessness and dedicated service they consistently provide our public,” added Farrow.
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week (April 10-16, 2011) was established by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office in 1981 to raise awareness of the hard work and dedication of 9-1-1 calltakers, dispatchers and other telecommunications staff. These include the technicians that maintain radio and emergency phone systems, those that train communications staff and the supervisors and managers of communications centers across the country. Telecommunicators provide a vital link to the public safety services on which Americans rely every day.