FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The week of April 10-16 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which honors and celebrates 911 dispatchers.
They’re the people who have to be the calm voice on the other end of the line when someone calls 911 with an emergency, and then they have to quickly relay that information to the necessary agencies.
”It’s critical work. It’s hard work. It’s stressful work, but these works are dedicated to what they do, sometimes in not great conditions, but they’re dedicated to what they do and provide a service like no other I’ve seen before,” Dave Bubb, the Executive Director of Fort Wayne-Allen County 911, said.
Bubb and Huntertown Fire Chief Robert Boren talked to WANE 15 on Friday about the work dispatchers do that is rarely seen or celebrated.
Bubb said they like to call themselves the “first, first responders” because they truly are the first line of communication for emergencies.
Chief Boren described how important of a role dispatchers play in what they do. He said dispatchers make order out of chaos, pick up slack on things they might’ve missed, and will watch out for the safety of first responders.
“We need to take a special moment to come up here and actually give them a pat on the back and say thank you for what they do,” Chief Boren said. “Sometimes, making that face to face interaction is what’s so vitally important to remind ourselves they are part of the first responders and they’re just as important as the people driving the trucks and the apparatus out there.”
The job is much more than just answering a phone. According to dispatcher Nancy Burton, there’s several months of training involved. Aside from being able to get necessary information from people on the other end of the line who might not be very calm, they have to know all street names and the layout of the entire county, among other things.
Burton said they’ve enjoyed celebrating at the Fort Wayne/Allen County 911 call center this week. They’ve dressed up each day.
“We had a different theme each day, and it’s nice to be able to not be in uniforms each day and wear something a little bit different and have some fun. We have fun with each other, and hopefully the recognition with people on the other end of the radio and the phones,” Burton said.
Bubb told WANE 15 he’s traveled all over the country and has rarely seen a community that supports its dispatchers like he’s seen here in Allen County. That includes things like food for the dispatchers from local restaurants and items they’re raffling off this week.