COLORADO SPRINGS — Sunday, April 10 marks the first day of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week 2022.
According to National Today, the event is observed every second week in April and is meant to recognize telecommunicators who help save millions of lives every day.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic defines public safety telecommunicators as 911 operators and fire dispatchers who answer emergency and nonemergency calls and provide resources to assist those in need.
Simply put, they act as the first line of communication between people who call 911 and the officers, paramedics, and firefighters who respond.
According to Communications Center Supervisor Eric Johnson, dispatchers are the unseen heroes of first responder agencies.
“The communications personnel are your first first responders. We are the people who are answering the calls and directing the officers where to go.”
Although not on the streets during emergencies, dispatchers must be prepared for any type of situation ranging from a person needing information, to a car crash, to a medical emergency.
“We’re specifically trained to speak to people, to calm people down, to ask questions, to give life-saving instructions,” Johnson explained.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “there are about 9,800 openings for public safety telecommunicators are projected each year, on average, over the decade.” Here in Colorado Springs, there are plenty of openings for people looking to serve their community and to provide help in dire situations.
Ideal qualities for Colorado Springs telecommunicators
- A service mentality (a desire to help the community)
- The ability to stay calm
- Some computer skills
Colorado Springs’ communications center offers extensive training for future telecommunicators.
“Initially it’s six weeks of classroom training and then at least nine weeks of on-the-job training with a trainer,” Johnson explained.
How to help our local dispatchers
If you ever need help and find yourself on the phone with a dispatcher, there are a few things you can do to not only make their job easier, but also to make sure you get help as soon as possible.
- Know your address (and make sure your children know it, too)
- Look around you for any landmarks, street signs, or other easily-identified points