When a resident calls 9-1-1, a firetruck, police car or ambulance arrives at their home in short order. While firefighters, police officers and EMTs are common sights in our community, there’s an integral bunch of people in the matrix who few get to meet.
The city’s dispatchers.
Working in a large, darkened room in City Hall, public safety dispatchers — properly known as telecommunicators — are the vital link between an anxious member of the public and the public safety agency or agencies best suited to respond to their call.
Their often hectic, selfless work was recognized last week when Mayor JB Whitten presented Fire Chief Tony Holland, who oversees the dispatch center, a proclamation declaring April 11-17 National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Crestview.
“Public safety telecommunicators are the first and most critical contact our citizens have with emergency services,” Mayor Whitten’s proclamation stated, calling dispatchers “the single vital link for our police and firefighters.”
Crestview’s dispatchers exhibit “compassion, understanding and professionalism during the performance of their job,” the proclamation stated.
During past years, Crestview’s telecommunicators have talked to suicidal residents, guided anxious parents through childbirth, answered questions pertaining to city policies and procedures, and talked citizen responders through providing medical care while awaiting EMTs to arrive.
They have also answered more than their share of “send a cop; my kid won’t do his homework” and “my daughter won’t eat her broccoli” calls. Such calls are illegal and are considered abuse of the 9-1-1 system, incidentally.
“When firefighters, police officers and EMTs respond to your call for service, ask them to thank the dispatcher who sent them,” Chief Holland suggests.