This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.
If the answer to that question is never or, that you never knew how, you’re in luck! April 9-15, 2017 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week, and the perfect time to show appreciation for 9-1-1 Call Takers and Dispatchers everywhere.
The idea for this week-long event was started in 1981 as a local event in Costa County, Va. President George H.W. Bush signed a proclamation in March 1992 inviting all Americans to observe this week so everyone could be made aware of their hard work and dedication to their communities.
What About A 9-1-1 Dispatcher Am I Celebrating, You Ask?
The first voice you hear when you call 9-1-1 is that of a call taker with their calm and reassuring voice. They are highly trained professionals who work with police, fire and medical personnel to get you the help you need. A 9-1-1 dispatcher is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, always ready to handle your call for assistance. In some instances, they can even make the difference between life and death.
Why Do They Have To Ask So Many Questions? Why Don’t They Just Send Me Someone?
Well let’s clear some things up. Emergency 9-1-1 Call/Takers/Dispatchers are trained to prioritize incoming calls: they’re gathering pertinent information from you to make sure the police, fire and/or medical personnel are equipped and prepared to respond before they get to you. They also need certain information to keep not only you as safe as possible, but also to keep the police and fire units safe. This can sometimes mean a lot of questions.
Actually, while they are gathering information from you, the call has already been entered for dispatch, and often, the police and/or fire personnel are already on the way. So, if you’re worried that their questions are causing a delay, don’t be. It is just providing you with the best service possible.
Oh, I Get Why We Should Honor Dispatchers Now! What Kind Of Activities Go On At Arlington’s Emergency Communication Center During This Week Of Celebration?
The week is an opportunity to shine a light on the phenomenally difficult, and often emotionally demanding work, that our 9-1-1 Call Takers/Dispatchers do to keep our community and responders safe. It also gives us a chance to thank them for their long work hours, sacrificed time away from their families (especially during holidays), and their commitment to public safety.
Annual recognition includes: Supervisor of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Teamwork Award, ECC Award of Excellence, Best Leader and Motivator, as well as a Hall of Fame, honoring 9-1-1 dispatchers with 15+ years of service in Arlington County.
How Can I Show Appreciation To My Arlington County 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatcher This Week?
The best way is to write a letter to Jack Brown, Director of the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management, and if you should ever have to call for assistance, a thank you is always appreciated because when you call, they answer.
Saving lives is what dispatchers do!