The nation is celebrating the critical work of public safety dispatchers from coast to coast. In Atascosa County, we rely on the dispatchers at the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Pleasanton VFD, the Pleasanton Police Department, and Jourdanton VFD to keep the lines open between citizens, fire fighters and police.
Every day dozens of people call 911 for accidents, assaults, fires, thefts and more in Atascosa County. Dispatchers receive those calls, extract the most important information from those calls, and give that information to police officers. They serve as the communication lifeline for patrol officers while about in the field, keeping tabs on where they are and what they are doing. Software such as CopSync can also track officer locations and provides a platform for communicating with officers, but human dispatchers are still irreplaceable coordinators for police and firefighters.
Each year, the second full week of April declared National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, via H.J. Res. 284, initially conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County
Sheriff’s Office in California in 1981.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 median pay for dispatchers was $36,300 per year ($17.45 per hour). There were 98,500 dispatchers in 2012 according to the BLS.
April is also 9-1-1 Education Month, and the 911: The Number to Know campaign has several tips for calling 9-1-1.
• Texting is not an option for most dispatch systems, so be prepared to talk to a dispatcher.
• Don’t give old cell phones to children as toys, as even a disconnected phone can contact 9-1-1.
• Know where you are, and give your dispatcher as much information as possible. Stay on the line and listen very carefully.
• Call police as soon as possible when you have been a victim of a crime, even if you feel you need to call the non-emergency number.