Source: Willis Carter, Executive Director, Natchitoches Parish Communications District
Public safety telecommunicators work long hours, and their role as first responders to an emergency often goes unrecognized. The evolution of change began in 1981, when Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office conceived the idea of recognizing public safety telecommunicators for a week and was instrumental in launching the celebration now known as “Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.” In the early 1990s, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) convinced Congress of the need for a formal proclamation. In 1991, Representative Edward J. Markey (D. Mass.) introduced what became H.J. Res 284 to create “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.” According to congressional procedure, it was introduced twice more, in 1993 and again in 1994, and then became permanent, with no need for a yearly introduction.
Now, each year, the second week of April is set aside to recognize the unsung heroes who are our public safety telecommunicators. This week is nationally recognized as a time of recognition for the incredible men and women who answer our 9-1-1 calls, dispatch emergency responders, and provide support services to emergency public safety communications centers across the nation. This week, public safety agencies nationwide recognize the pivotal role played by telecommunicators.
During challenging and uncertain times like these, the services of these individuals are more important than ever. On behalf of the Natchitoches Parish Communications Board of Commissioners, we say “thank you” to these individuals for providing the residents and visitors of Natchitoches Parish with a gateway to public safety services. These professionals, who work in our nation’s public safety dispatch centers as call takers, dispatchers, radio operators, radio and computer technicians, and supervisors, are truly “first responders” in times of emergency, whether it be fire, law enforcement, or an emergency medical emergency. Most often, they are our first contact—our first link to help when we need emergency assistance. This is truly a well-deserved week of recognition for them.