HOLBROOK – As part of National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, Director Steve Hooke and the Holbrook Regional Emergency Communication Center (HRECC) would like to present a series of informational messages to help teach the public about what the members of the HRECC do on a daily basis, including more about the staff who work there and their varied responsibilities.
Each day this week, the HRECC will present a different question and answer to highlight the vital role its staff members play in the communities the HRECC serves.
Question: Are telecommunicators considered first responders in the same way as police, fire and EMS personnel?
The mission statement of the HRECC begins with a simple message: The HRECC is the “first of the first responders.”
By fielding calls from the public and quickly and efficiently dispatching police, fire and emergency medical services as needed, HRECC telecommunicators are often the first point of contact for the public in an emergency. And the work goes beyond simply dispatching, as telecommunicators are highly trained to offer life-saving medical instructions in addition to providing accurate public safety information to callers.
“Some might think that a ‘response’ to an emergency begins once police officers or firefighters arrive at a scene, but in fact the response began as soon as a telecommunicator picked up the phone to answer a 911 call,” HRECC Director Steve Hooke said. “We hope that people begin to think of telecommunications as first responders, because they help to enable police, fire and EMS to do their jobs effectively.”
This notion is reinforced with the HRECC’s motto, “Always There – Always Ready.” Telecommunicators must be ready to answer the call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The importance of telecommunicators has become heightened during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as they are the ones obtaining important information about a callers’ health status before other first responders arrive at someone’s home or a scene. By asking simple viral illness screening questions early during a call, telecommunicators can assess what extra precautions must be taken during a potential response, both for the safety of first responders and members of the public.
Every year during the second week of April, dispatchers and telecommunications personnel in the public safety community are honored as part of National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
This year, National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week 2020 takes place from April 12-18.
This week-long event, which first began in 1981 by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California, has grown into a nationwide celebration to recognize and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public as telecommunicators.
For more information, visit www.npstw.org.