National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week: Honoring the Lifeline of Emergency Services

By Andrea King-Smith, Senior Strategic CSM & Customer Engagement Lead, Carbyne

national public safety telecommunicators week

911 emergency services have been a lifeline for millions of Americans in times of need. When we dial the three-digit number, we expect to be connected to a professional who can send us help as quickly as possible. However, behind the scenes, a team of unsung heroes works tirelessly to ensure that the right resources are dispatched to the right location at the right time. These are the public safety telecommunicators, and we celebrate them during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NPSTW) is an annual event that takes place during the second full week of April. The week-long celebration was first officially recognized by the United States Congress in 1991 through a joint resolution. The goal of this event is to raise awareness about the essential role of public safety telecommunicators and to honor their contributions to the emergency services community.

Public safety telecommunicators, more appropriately called communications specialists, are the first responders to an emergency call. They are responsible for gathering information, dispatching the appropriate resources, and providing critical information to first responders on the scene. These professionals serve as a crucial link between those in need and the emergency services providers who can help them.

The United States has approximately 6,000 emergency 911 call centers, also known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). The communications specialists who staff these centers must be able to work under extreme pressure, have excellent communication skills, and possess a thorough knowledge of the multiple systems they are required to use on a daily basis. This is why celebrating the work these talented professionals do during NPSTW is important. The community can help support the celebration as well.

Support your local PSAP
As a citizen, there are many ways to support your local 911 center during this week and year-round. One way is to simply express your appreciation for their service by sending a thank-you note or dropping off some snacks. During NPSTW, staff and leaders at PSAPs plan different daily activities to keep their staff engaged and ensure they feel celebrated. Typically, these activities are funded by the PSAP or community businesses that provide sponsorship. If you are looking for a way to support the PSAP in your community, you can reach out to inquire about their needs. If you are a business owner, ask the PSAP if your business can donate to their celebration. If you are a restaurant owner, see about sponsoring lunch or dinner for one of the shifts at the PSAP during that week.

Another way is to become educated on proper emergency call protocol, such as providing clear and concise information, staying calm, and following the dispatcher’s instructions. Additionally, citizens can help reduce the number of non-emergency calls to 911 by learning the appropriate phone numbers to call for non-emergency situations, such as the local police department’s non-emergency line.

The 911 SAVES Act
In February 2019, the 911 SAVES Act was introduced in Congress. The Act aims to reclassify public safety telecommunicators as “Protective Service Occupations” under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This would place public safety telecommunicators in the same category as other first responders, such as police officers and firefighters.

Currently, public safety telecommunicators are classified as “Administrative Support Occupations” by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This classification does not accurately reflect the essential role that public safety telecommunicators play in emergency services. The 911 SAVES Act would recognize public safety telecommunicators as the first, first responders, and provide them with the recognition and benefits they deserve. Reach out to your state representatives and express your support for the 911 SAVES Act. This support could help your local communications specialists qualify for more benefits such as PTSD care.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is an important opportunity to recognize the vital role that public safety telecommunicators play in emergency services. These professionals are the lifeline for millions of Americans in times of need, and they deserve our recognition and appreciation. As we celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we should also be mindful of the need to continue to advocate for the recognition and support that public safety telecommunicators deserve. The 911 SAVES Act is an important step in the right direction, and we should continue to work towards ensuring that public safety telecommunicators are recognized and valued as the critical first responders that they are.

We at Carbyne would like to express our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to all public safety telecommunicators for their unwavering dedication and commitment to serving our communities. Your vital role in emergency services cannot be overstated, and your work saves lives every single day. During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and throughout the year, we stand with you and acknowledge the sacrifices you make to keep us safe. It is through the collective support of our communities, businesses, and individuals that we can help ensure public safety telecommunicators receive the recognition and resources they deserve. Thank you for being the lifeline of emergency services, and for your tireless service to our communities.

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