City of Troy honors dispatchers for unsung service
Published 3:00 am Friday, April 14, 2017
Communities often honor police and firefighters, but there’s another group behind the scenes working just as hard to keep the community safe: public safety telecommunicators, also known as 911 dispatchers.
Mayor Jason Reeves signed a proclamation Wednesday officially declaring this week “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week” in Troy.
“They do a tremendous job,” Reeves said. “Every time they get a call there’s a problem and what they do for first responders and the public is invaluable. The professionalism, the organization and the way they handle themselves the way they provide information and support for all of our first responders – they do a tremendous job. We couldn’t do the things we do in the city without them.
“We’re very grateful for what they do for community. It’s important to take time out to recognize and call attention to what they do.”
Pike County has three 911 call centers with a total of 30 dispatchers: 13 at the Troy Police Department, 11 at the Pike County Sheriff’s office and six at the Brundidge Police Department.
Troy Police Chief Randall Barr called dispatchers the “unsung heroes” of the department.
“They’re the people behind the scenes that nobody really sees, but they do a tremendous job every day,” Barr said. “In most cases, they’re the first contact folks have with the police department. They’re tasked with getting the information from the caller and getting that information out to the officers on the street. Especially on calls of a more serious nature, they are the eyes and ears relaying the information from that caller to the police officer. That has to be smooth.”
Chris Dozier, 911 Director, said dispatchers are tasked with multiple responsibilities.
“They handle all communications for law enforcement agencies and fire departments in the county,’ Dozier said. “They answer all the 911 calls in the county and they also answer administrative lines. They also forward all information to Haynes ambulance.
“While they’re doing all of this, they’re logging all of the information into a computer dispatch system and utilizing a map system to see where things are going on. They’re also running traffic and checking warrants. These are just the highlights; they do so much more every day.”
Dozier said the thing people don’t realize is the stress of the job.
“A lot of people don’t realize the stress,” Dozier said. “I’d say the hardest part is you deal with these high-stress situations and you don’t know how it ended. They get people there and then they’re jumping to the next emergency. Most days it is nonstop. It’s a very high-stress job.”
The Association of Public-Safety Communication Officials (APCO) is pushing a petition in conjunction with National Public Safety Telecommunications Week to reclassify dispatchers as Protective Service Occupations and to retitle them as Public Safety Telecommunicators in the federal government’s Standard Occupational Classification.
“Right now they’re classified as office and administrative support,” Dozier said. “This would be a step in the right direction toward getting them recognized for what they do.”
To sign the petition, go to https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/9-1-1-professionals-should-be-recognized-protecting-and-saving-lives.