Jenifer Goodwin

Story Vault

By Jenifer Goodwin

While getting the word out about 9-1-1 to the public is important, so is showing appreciation for those on the other end of the line—the calltakers, dispatchers, and other public safety telecommunications professionals who are the “first, first responders.”

And the perfect opportunity each year is during the third week of April in celebration of Public Safety Telecommunicators Week when PSAP administrators; public safety colleagues in police, fire, and EMS; and the general public are urged to thank 9-1-1 professionals for their contributions to the health and safety of their communities.

Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate in your community.

  1. Host a PSAP open house and give the community a closer look at the public safety system and the people on the receiving end of the 9-1-1 call. Be sure to invite your elected officials, the media, and your public safety colleagues in EMS, fire, and law enforcement.

Recognize public safety telecommunicators with a proclamation by a prominent local or state official. 2. Celebrate with food! At the Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) near Salt Lake City, Executive Director William Harry enlists the help of police, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics to order pizzas, arrange a potluck, or cater a lunch for each shift. Other centers might provide desserts, have a cookout, or pull together gift bags filled with snacks and movie passes donated by local vendors. 3. Recognize a staff member who helped save a life with dispatcher-assisted CPR. Share the story with the media, particularly if the person saved is willing to participate in interviews.

Create a dispatcher of the year award and host an annual dinner to announce the winner and, also, honor all of your calltakers.

About the National 9-1-1 Education Coalition

In October 2010, a volunteer group of public safety, education, and industry stakeholders formed the National 9-1-1 Education Coalition to support the nationwide coordinated promotion of National 9-1-1 Education Month and National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. The Coalition’s 9-1-1: The Number to Know awareness campaign promotes public awareness and the effective use of 9-1-1 resources.

The Coalition also supports access to the “best of the best” 9-1-1 educational and promotional ideas and promotes the advancement of 9-1-1 technology and services to foster public access to emergency help.

Coalition members include: • NG9-1-1 Institute • 9-1-1 for Kids • Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) • Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT) • International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) • National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA) • National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

For more information about the Coalition, visit www.ng911institute.org or contact Carla A. Anderson, deputy executive director, at carla@ng911institute.org.