Dispatchers do much more than just take phone calls
With all that is going on around us and the attention being given to so many of those who serve our communities, it is fitting that this week is set aside for us to recognize public safety telecommunicators.
We seem to always focus on those resources that respond to the scene with the lights and sirens but all too often forget about the dispatchers who are the first ones to get the call and many times try to make sense out of frantic voices on the other end of the line. Without the skills of the public safety telecommunicator, none of the subsequent efforts would be possible.
Each year, the second week of April is designated as Public Safety Telecommunications Recognition Week. While this role in public safety is not as recognized or publicized as a law enforcement officer, fire fighter or rescue personnel member, it is without a doubt as important as those other professions.
The public safety telecommunicator is the first contact in most critical events. Whether it is a motor vehicle accident, a fire, a crime, or even someone locking their keys in their car, the first voice they will hear that will ultimately get them the services they need will be the voice of a public safety telecommunicator.
Most people refer to them as dispatchers, and while this is one of the key roles they perform, there is much more to this position.
Here in Kewaunee County we have the distinction of being one of the last agencies that has dual roles on our staff. The official title for this position at the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department is Jailer/Dispatcher. What this means is that our dispatchers also serve as our jailers and our jailers as dispatchers.
This allows us to meet the state requirement to have two jailers on shift at all times. While there is no requirement to have two dispatchers on at all times, having the flexibility to have a second dispatcher when those critical calls come in is definitely an advantage.
Most of us have heard of multitasking but I don’t think you can truly appreciate that phrase until you see what the typical day is in the life of one of these staff members.
Even the most minor of calls will require them to take the initial call, communicate that call to the proper response unit and furthermore document that call with absolute accuracy, all at the same time.
When you take this to the level of a multi-agency response to a major event such as a structure fire, their skills are truly put to the test. It is fitting that we take some time to give our appreciation to those who truly are on the front lines of keeping our communities safe.
I want to personally thank all of the men and women who hold these law enforcement positions, and I want to reiterate that they do in fact “Serve and Protect with Pride and Integrity” the citizens of Kewaunee County, just like any other member of our law enforcement family.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Dispatchers do much more than just take phone calls