You may never know what they look like -- but odds are, if you truly need them, you will never forget what they sound like. "9-1-1, what is your emergency?" quickly evolves into step-by-step instructions on how to perform CPR, or how best to stay safe in the threat of danger.
Telecommunicators are the men and women who answer that first call for help. If you ask, most Dispatchers will tell you that the best part of their job is being able to help preserve or save a life. Fortunately, most of the calls into 911 are not life-threatening; they are merely "emergencies" to the people who need help. This may be a car parked too long in their neighborhood, a loud party down the street, or even a loose cow on the side of a major roadway.
Often, there are calls about major highway accidents or medical situations. Dispatchers not only send first responders to help, they collect vital information for those first responders, and can even help intervene in life-threatening emergencies ("How do I help this person who is no longer breathing?")
This year, April 9-15 is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. It is an opportunity to draw attention to this critical profession, and thank the men and women who answer 911 and save lives. Unlike Police Officers, Firefighters, and Paramedics, Dispatchers do not get to see the end result of their efforts. They don't get to see the faces of the children they help save, or the parents they coach through CPR. But, they still show up to work each day, ready and willing to be that calm voice of reason -- the one that saves, consoles, and sends help.
Thank you to all Telecommunicators