National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week Honors Heroes Behind the Scenes

JEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – This week, National Public Telecommunicators Week is honoring emergency 9-1-1 dispatchers, the men and women people depend on during some of life’s most difficult moments.

(Pictured above: Jefferson County 911 dispatcher Chris Andre.)

9-1-1 dispatchers are typically anonymous, a voice through a phone during a time of hardship, but they are also a major part of the life-saving process as the first point of contact for people dealing with an emergency situation.

The week of April 8 to April 14 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Sponsored by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and celebrated annually, this week honors the thousands of men and women who respond to emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment, and render life-saving assistance to people in need.

Though the job is vital, it certainly isn’t easy.

Tracy Zentz, Director of Emergency Services for Jefferson County, spoke to about some of the challenges the dispatchers face.

“The dispatchers are truly the first responders to any emergency. They are the ones that callers hear first, they have to reassure the caller they’re getting help as quickly as possible, while still getting all the required information so they can make accurate decisions about the response. Sometimes it’s very difficult, such as when people who are just traveling through have an emergency, and they don’t even know exactly where they are.”

“When people call, dispatchers have to be that compassionate voice on the other end of the phone, and that in itself can sometimes be difficult.”

Zentz noted that though the dispatchers sometimes don’t find out the final outcome of the calls they take, they times they do can be quite uplifting.

“To know that a birth was successful or that someone survived a heart attack because of your actions is very rewarding.”

Though they appreciate the recognition of what they do, they’re keeping National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week low key in Jefferson County.

“We normally keep things in-house. We have different meals for the dispatchers, get them coffee mugs with the 9-1-1 slogan, just things to show that we appreciate what they do.”

“They have a difficult job. The one nice thing about our county is that we know a lot of the people who call, as well as the first responders, so it’s like a tight-knit family.”

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