Week recognizes importance of 911 operators
by Special to the Banner
Apr 21, 2013 | 666 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KRIS KITCHENS OF Bradley County 911 is just one of the local dispatchers who participated in this week’s National Telecommunicator’s Week. Banner photo, GREG KAYLOR
KRIS KITCHENS OF Bradley County 911 is just one of the local dispatchers who participated in this week’s National Telecommunicator’s Week. Banner photo, GREG KAYLOR
When you are in a situation that you have to call 911, have you ever thought about who answers the phone?

When you call any of the local emergency services for non-emergency reasons, do you realize that a 911 operator answers that line too?

Don’t be discouraged if you answered no to either or both.

This week is recognized as 2013’s National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

It was designated as a time to thank the men and women who take emergency and nonemergency calls and dispatch emergency personnel and equipment to residents in need.

It is also a time to thank the support staff that maintains radio and emergency phone systems, and other supporting duties.

“This week, 911 dispatchers across America are recognized during National Telecommunicator Week. Here in Cleveland, we honor our employees who answer thousands of emergency calls weekly. Their dedication and willingness to go that extra mile make a positive difference in the lives of our citizens every day. We truly believe we have the best of the best right here in our community,” said local director Joe Wilson.

The employees at Bradley County 911 are provided with the opportunity to celebrate this week in many ways. They get to dress down each day, they have lunch provided for them by the agencies for whom they dispatch and items are also donated to the center by local businesses to be given as door prizes.

Why so much for our local dispatchers?

Since these men and women are often not thought of, this is their week to shine.

“To be a 911 dispatcher you have to be dedicated. You also have to wake up each day wanting to make a difference. They have to give up holidays and weekends to come to work. They may miss out on family gatherings, school events and social outings,” Jennifer Lawson, a veteran dispatcher, said.

“Dispatchers can be the brunt of most people’s bad days and they are the sounding board to most public servants who are stressed and frustrated,” she added.

Dispatchers or call-takers have to help people with situations that you would not wish on your worst enemy.

The job is not physically demanding, but dynamics of what it mentally takes from you is remarkable.

That is why it takes such a special person to do the job. And without the desire to help people, the compassion needed for quality of service expected would be non-existent.

Once a dispatcher realizes their action made an impact, it makes all the bad worth wading through. That realization hooks them making them want to do it again, according to Lawson.

In Bradley County, it is common for the same person to answer the call for service, dispatch the appropriate unit and remain on the phone with the caller until the unit arrives, in addition to keeping up with the other units they are responsible for while this event is on going.

Because they have so many things going on and the call taker isn’t at the location of the incident, residents become the eyes of the dispatcher.

It is important for all of the questions asked of the resident to be answered to the best of their ability.

If there is a time that “a call for help” needs to be placed stay calm, listen to the call taker and respond with the best answers possible.

Since this is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, take the time to consider what others give up to be of service to you, the resident in need.

No matter when you may require the assistance of 911 or their dispatchers they are always there and always ready. T

“We are proud of the partnership we have with emergency responders in law enforcement, fire, EMS and rescue, and we are grateful for those in the community who have taken the time to express appreciation for our telecommunicators this week," Wilson added.