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National Emergency Dispatcher Appreciation Week

In October 1991, United States Representative Edward J. Markey (Massachusetts) introduced a resolution in Congress designating the second full week of April as “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.”

Representative Markey noted that, “every day, in all of our communities, dedicated public safety telecommunicators answer our calls for assistance.  They dispatch our calls for help to local police and fire departments, facilitating the execution of emergency rescue and law enforcement operations in all our districts.  These public safety personnel serve as the vital links within our cities and towns, although rarely appreciated because they are not at the scene.   It is time that we show our appreciation for these people who make our Nation’s police and fire departments professional and responsive.”

Maryland Congresswoman Connie Morella said at the time, “public safety telecommunicators are the driving force behind our Nation’s emergency rescue services.  They are the men and women who dispatch our police forces, our ambulances, our firefighters.  Although they are not as visible as the men and women who arrive at the scene of emergencies, they are just as important.  We depend upon public safety telecommunicators to notify emergency personnel promptly, clearly and calmly.  We depend upon them for guidance and support in our most frantic and panicked moments. 

Our emergency dispatchers truly are the vital link between those needing emergency assistance and responders.  We rely on our dispatch professionals to remain calm while performing numerous highly stressful tasks at the same time.  At any given moment, the phone may ring and they have to dispatch officers to a domestic situation while trying to tell a crying victim on the phone to remain calm and get to a safe location or they may be relaying radio communications from a firefighter at the scene of a traffic accident to a medical helicopter pilot who is trying to find a place to land or they may have to instruct a frantic caller on how to give CPR to a child or loved one until the ambulance arrives.

While they might not be regularly recognized in the community as public safety professionals, nothing could be further from the truth. Our dispatchers are usually the public’s first contact in an emergency situation.  In 2011 alone, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Dispatchers handled 8,585 911 calls, 74,878 phone calls and 228, 469 radio transmissions for the agencies we serve, which include the Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Police and Fire Departments, Scammon Police and Fire Departments, Weir Police and Fire Departments, Baxter Springs and Galena Fire Departments along with the Baxter Springs, Columbus and Galena Ambulance Services.  This list includes only the primary agencies we serve, but we also provide dispatch assistance to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism when they are operating in Cherokee County.

As part of the National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the dedicated men and women who serve the citizens of Cherokee County as emergency dispatchers.

David M. Groves

Sheriff, Cherokee County 

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