April 14-20 is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week (NPSTCW), honoring the men and women who answer important, life-saving 911 phone calls.
Here, in Southern California, last year, the Ventura County Fire Communications Center answered over 212,000 telephone calls and dispatched for more than 82,000 incidents for the cities of Camarillo, Fillmore, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Moorpark, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, and the unincorporated areas of County of Ventura.
VCFD Chief, Mark Lorenzen, called them skilled, highly-trained professionals who remain calm and patient in the peak of extreme circumstances.
Thirty-five dispatchers work at VCFD’s Fire Communications Center, which manages and coordinates support for wildland fires, structure fires, vehicle accidents, hazmat incidents, and medical emergencies.
Whether on the phone with community members or on the radio with firefighters, dispatchers remain calm during every storm. In 2018, this included support for the Borderline shooting, Thomas Fire recovery, Woolsey and Hill fires, structure fires, medical call, and multi-vehicle collisions.
VCFD Battalion chief, Charlie Sullenbarger, SAID, “Our dispatchers play a key role in emergency response and safety. They provide life-saving medical and CPR instruction, walk families through childbirth, and calm callers in dangerous, life-threatening situations. It’s truly a team effort that starts when a call is answered.
NPSTCW was initially set up in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office in California. Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators.