The second week of April each year is recognized as National Telecommunicators Week. Telecommunicators are recognized for the pivotal role they play in public safety. They’re typically the first voice anyone hears when they’re calling about an emergency, whether it’s for a police, fire or EMS call.
Most citizens take telecommunicators for granted until they need their assistance. Then that individual becomes the most important person in the world and is a lifeline for the caller. Telecommunicators must be well versed in communication and have the ability to remain calm in very stressful situations.
Their job is oftentimes more stressful than that of the officers or firefighters they send to the scene. They cannot see what’s going on; every time the phone rings, they have to be prepared for anything. It’s a lot to ask of anyone.
Lee County is very fortunate to have an active director (Shelley Dallas) at the Lee County 9-1-1 Center who strives to give them the best and most applicable training available. The center also is blessed with an administrative assistant (Katie Nielsen), who has been immensely valuable on the mapping we all rely upon when calling 9-1-1, so responders can find you.
We have nine dedicated and professional telecommunicators that work 24/7, 365 days a year. If you see them, please thank them for a job well done.
I know that I’m proud of them and would like to thank them for their years of service: Deb Killian, 20 years; Wendy Seeberg, 17; Julie Morgan, 17; Paula Carlson, 16; Tina Goldie, 13; Laura Enlow, 10; Elizabeth McCoy, 10; Laura Hicks, 9; and Felicia Schauff, first year of service.
A couple of statistics to consider: In 2013, the telecommunicators handled 50,183 phone calls, or 137 a day, and of those calls, 8,292 were 9-1-1 calls, or about 23 per day.
Note to readers: Bradley J. Sibley is chairman of the Lee County Emergency Telephone System Board.