Peggy Kiefer

Grove Sun

National Telecommunicator Week (NTW) is the second full week of April and is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators or dispatchers.

“I don't think our dispatchers get the recognition they deserve because they are behind the scene,” said Grove Police Chief Mark Morris.

Morris said that unlike police, fire, EMS and sheriff, telecommunicators are not out in the public where they are seen. In the Grove Police Communications office they hide behind a tinted window and handle everything from 911 calls, non-emergency calls, fires, domestic disputes, bomb threats and people coming to the station, just to name a few.

“They have a very stressful job. They are the vital link between the public and emergency services,” said Chief Morris.

According to Chief Morris, Chief Thomas Wagoner of the Loveland, Colorado Police Department stated the role of dispatchers in his Tribute to Dispatchers in which he writes, “Dispatchers are expected to be able to do five things at once, and do them well.”

“Dispatchers connect the anxious conversations of terrified victims, angry informants, suicidal citizens and grouchy officers. They are the calming influence of all of the. The quiet competent voices in the night that provide the pillars for the bridges of sanity and safety. They are expected to gather information from highly agitated people who can't remember where they live, what theír name is or what they just saw. And they are to calmly provide all that information to the officers, firefighters or paramedics without error the first time and every time,” continues Chief Wagoner.

Grove dispatch has six full-time and one part-time telecommunicators. The agencies dispatched by Grove Police Communications Officers include Grove Police, Grove EMS, Grove Fire, Hickory Grove Fire, Cowskin Fire, Zena Fire, Monkey Island Fire, Emergency Management, Butler Fire, Bernice Fire and Paradise Point Fire. They are also in communication with Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Delaware County Sheriff's Office and GRDA Police.

Telecommunicators juggle all these events and agencies often at the same time. For example, if a structure fire is called in, the telecommunicator will look at a map to determine which fire or fire departments need to be toned-out (called).

Vice-Mayor Marty Follis presented a Proclamation to Grove City Council proclaiming the week of April 10 – 16, 2011 as “National Telecommunicator's Week at the City Council meeting last Tuesday, April 5.

NTW was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County, CA Sheriff's Office in 1981 and was observed only at that agency for three years. By the early 1990's, the National Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) organization convinced Congress of the need for a formal proclamation. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) introduced what became H.J. Res. 284 to create “National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week” According to Congressional procedure, it was introduced twice more in 1993 and 1994, and then became permanent, without the need for yearly introduction.