Since childhood we have been taught that in an emergency we should call the universal emergency number 9-1-1. Our expectation upon calling is that we will soon have a police officer, a fireman or an emergency medical unit arrive at our location and begin aiding us in our emergency. In addition to being taught to call 9-1-1, we hear stories daily about the heroic efforts of first responders around the world who have come to the assistance of those in need.
As a former PSAP director and now the Executive Director of the Indiana Wireless Board I know that the true “first-responders” in any emergency are the unsung heroes who answer that call: “9-1-1 what is your emergency?” These dedicated men and women are well-trained as communication specialists and know that they are responsible for obtaining all of the information, dispatching the correct resources, providing pre-arrival instructions and whatever else demands are placed upon them, while at the same time calming and reassuring the caller that help is on the way.
Advancements in public safety technology have been tremendous and have provided us with excellent tools to use while doing this job and we expect even greater things from NG9-1-1. However, let’s not lose sight of the individual working behind that console who is ultimately responsible for the delivery of emergency service. There will be several outstanding individuals recognized in the coming week for the services they provide in their communities and each one is very deserving of this award. Beyond these 2011 PSAPs Finest award winners there are literally hundreds more who deserve our recognition on a daily basis for their service to the public. In 2010, I received the PSAPs Finest award for Communication Center Director of the Year Award. I readily accepted the recognition on behalf of my employees in Wayne County, Indiana, as it was those employees who made our center great and made my job easy as well.
Thank you to all who serve the public safety needs of their communities and further the mission of public safety communications.
Barry C. Ritter, ENP, is Executive Director of the Indiana Wireless E9-1-1 Board.