The second week of April is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators or "dispatchers." Dispatchers ensure the correct resources respond promptly to an emergency.
Each year, the second week of April is designated by Congress as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. A telecommunicator, or dispatcher, is the first person many people have contact with in an emergency, and helps to calm those who are panicked and ensure the correct resources respond to the emergency.
“The city of Stevens Point is fortunate to have eight highly professional dispatchers,” said Sally McGinty, supervisor of the city’s Dispatch Center. “They answer approximately 60,000 calls each year, which are a combination of land-line and cell 911 and non-emergency calls.”
Dispatchers answer calls, determine what assistance the callers need, send the appropriate police, fire, or emergency medical service units, and monitor the activity of the units while on scene. Additionally, dispatchers are trained to provide pre-arrival medical instructions so that care can begin before emergency medical service personnel arrive. Dispatchers can coach a bystander through performing CPR or delivering a baby.
Dispatchers also deal with routine activities, such as answering and routing non-emergency police department calls, running computerized records checks, taking fingerprints, and dealing with walk-in traffic after business hours.
Sergeant. Tom Zenner, Stevens Point Police Department shift supervisor, points out the key role dispatchers’ play. “They are the heartbeat of the department,” he said. “Information comes into the dispatch center and gets disseminated.”
Dispatching is a challenging profession. Dispatchers must know city geography, police and fire department procedures, various computer applications, radio operations and equipment, customer service techniques, emergency medical dispatch protocols, and much more. City dispatchers complete a training process that takes approximately 14 weeks.
Although dispatching is challenging, it is also very rewarding. “I love the satisfaction of helping people,” said Melissa (Missy) Pitcher, a Stevens Point dispatcher for 11 years. “We have a great group of individuals to work with and it’s good to be a part of the department and the community.”
April 8th through 14th is proclaimed for public safety telecommunicators, but their valuable service should be recognized and appreciated all through the year.
The photo below is of the Stevens Point dispatchers. Standing L to R are: Melissa Pitcher, Virginia Konop, Nicole Schlice, Sharon Anderson, and Julie Lampert. Seated are: Megan Kropidlowski, Kim Zvara, and Jodi Stoik.