Opinion

This is National Telecommunicators Week, celebrate local 911 dispatchers

Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings - Contributed photo
Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings
— image credit: Contributed photo

This week, April 13-19, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of National Telecommunicators Week. Since 1991, public safety agencies across the nation have designated the second week in April as the time to publicly recognize the dispatchers who play such a vitally important role in keeping our communities safe.

When a person in crisis calls 911, our dispatchers become their lifeline to safety and help. They are who we depend on to relay critical information both to and from our officers on the street.

The skills a dispatcher must have are significant. During the course of their shift they might be required to calm a hysterical caller down and then immediately turn around and handle a multiple unit response to an in-progress incident. They must be capable of remaining calm and focused even during times when they can hear a dangerous disturbance occurring in the background yet also know how to provide comfort to a child who called 911 because they are home alone and are scared. We depend on them to manage radio exchanges with multiple units and still remember to do a status check on an officer who has been out a bit longer than usual on a traffic stop.

Our dispatchers perform this essential work for Public Safety Departments and our citizens 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and they do it with professionalism, integrity and pride. So take the time during this week and let them know you appreciate the critical service they provide for our community.

Carol Cummings is the Bothell chief of police.

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