The second week of April is recognized each year as “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week”, (Apr 8-14), bringing well-deserved attention and recognition to the public safety dispatchers who are an invaluable part of the emergency response team. Assuring rapid response by police, fire, and medical personnel in the midst of emergencies, the men and women who take 911 calls and send assistance are often overlooked for the critical role that they play in coordinating first response and lifesaving efforts.
According to a news release from the office of the Ventura County Sheriff, Geoff Dean, these public safety dispatchers have dedicated their careers to providing superior service to people who have a need for law enforcement assistance. In many cases, the dispatcher can make the difference between life and death.
In 2017, the public safety dispatchers and supervisors at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office answered more than 363,000 telephone calls, including over 103,000 9-1-1 calls and every year, that number grows. Day in, and day out, hundreds of people depend on the skill, expertise, and commitment of the dispatchers who work in public safety communications. These team members help save countless lives by handling emergency telephone calls, dispatching law enforcement 111 resources, and providing moral support to people in distress. “Their normal workday is nothing but abnormal in so many ways.”
Public safety dispatchers must undergo a rigorous testing and background process before being hired. After they have been hired, new dispatchers must attend a three-week Basic Dispatcher Course that is certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Typically, their training also includes 2 additional weeks of classroom training and between 6 – 12months of on-the-job training before the new dispatcher is allowed to work independently. Even then, approximately 50% of the dispatchers hired are not able to successfully complete the training program due to the unique demands and stress of the job.
The release continues, “The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office is celebrating the valuable contributions that our public safety dispatchers make on a daily basis. We are incredibly fortunate to have such talented and dedicated professionals who work so hard to serve the public and our deputies.”
Telecommunicators Week began in California in 1981 and quickly grew to become a national week of recognition. Just ten years later, Congress officially designated the second week of each April as a time to remember the critical role that dispatchers play in keeping us all safe.