National Public Safety Telecommunicator’s Week April 14-20 4/6/13

911-dispatcch-150x150 It began in 1981, at the Contra Costa County (CA) Sheriff’s Department, where a time was set aside to recognize the service of their dispatch staff.  For three years, only CCSO participated, but in time, as word spread, other agencies around the United States adopted the idea.  In 1991, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced what became H.J. Res. 284 to create “National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.”  Introduced again in 1993 and 1994, the act became permanent, and the second full week of April each year is now a nationally recognized time to honor dispatchers and telecommunicators at public safety agencies across the country (and now around the world. You just can’t keep a good idea contained to one place!).

This Sunday, April 7, agencies from around Central California will honor their dispatch and telecommunicator staffs with a banquet and awards ceremony to be held in Clovis.  Each agency will present it’s “Dispatcher of the Year” at the dinner, recognizing service and dedication to their departments.

From longevity of service, to outstanding handling of critical incidents, to training of new dispatchers, to stepping up to support their departments, the “Dispatcher of the Year” at each organization is an indispensable part of the public safety team.  The first point of contact with the public, they and their fellow telecommunicators determine what resources will be required, obtain critical information from callers who may be hysterical, angry, intoxicated, or simply unable to express what they need.  It’s up to the dispatcher (aka telecommunicator) to determine what the caller needs, provide the correct information to the units in the field (often erroneously called first responders, the dispatcher is the actual first responder), to insure the safety of those responders as well as that of the general public.

Being a Public Safety Telecommunicator, often simply called a “9-1-1 dispatcher”, is a demanding, rewarding, incredible career.  Stressful, challenging, and often fast paced, it’s not a career for everyone.  For those who “answer the call”, it’s more than just a job, it’s a means of helping their communities in substantial and important ways.

Sunday’s banquet and ceremony will honor local dispatchers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and they will be recognized by their peers and their departments for that service.

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