Reflections on National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week

National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week (April 8 – 14, 2018) is the week set aside to recognize the extraordinary work and efforts of our nation's emergency call takers and dispatchers, the true first responders and unsung heroes of 9-1-1. This Year, in honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, I asked 9-1-1 professionals across North America to tell me why it's important to recognize 9-1-1 Telecommunicators and how their centers are marking the occasion this year. Here are some of their reflections:

Hattie Schweitzer, Operations Manager, Snohomish County 911​

"Mostly working behind the scenes, the Snohomish County 9-1-1 telecommunicators act as a lifeline for first responders and our community by answering the call. We have requested our first responders to join us as we recognize our fine professionals."

"SNO911's Supervisor Team has coordinated numerous special events to recognize and express our appreciation for the professionalism of our Dispatch Center Staff. The theme we have chosen for this year is 'We Think the World of You.' We extended this invitation to all Police, Fire, and Medical responders in our agency to join us in thanking our team for their excellent service by 'adopting a shift.' The support of our agencies ranges from a thank you card to bringing in a treat or sponsoring a shift raffle for a gift card."

"Last year we had multiple gifts brought in and are expecting the same this year. We had banners, mugs, specialty food items, and visits from our first responders. It was a special week and memories were made. The feedback from our dispatchers and call takers was that it was by far the best National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week they have ever had. With the support of our agencies this year, we anticipate that our teammates will have the same experience this year."

Alexandrea Grovenburg, Communications Supervisor, Fire Department, Communications, City of Arlington

"I would have to say mainly because most telecommunicators are never recognized enough. This is a thankless job…you CAN'T do it for recognition. Telecommunicators are the first line of help to citizens in need of Police, Fire or EMS. Telecommunicators have an immensely stressful job. There are certain things about being a telecommunicator that cannot be taught. You learn from experience and usually mistakes (whether you're own or someone else's). Telecommunicators work closely with the citizens, police officers, fire fighters and EMS personnel and are many times overlooked. More times than not most telecommunicators are overworked and underpaid, working long hours and hearing peoples' worst nightmares call after call. Having just one week where we are celebrated is extremely important, just so those who do this job and love it know that there are people out there who do see them behind the headset."

“For National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week we cater to our telecommunicators. Other organizations including Police/Fire/EMS along with management and supervisors treat the center to breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week. We get different things ranging from full course meals to popcorn bins, desserts, coffee, etc.”

Want to learn more?

I hope you enjoyed these reflections on National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week from representatives of agencies across North America. Please visit the National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NPSTW) website to see how various agencies across the country are taking the opportunity to recognize their 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers.

Another great way to recognize your agency's 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers is to nominate them for a PSAPs' Finest Award. You can read more about the PSAPs' Finest Award Program on the NICE website.

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