Crossville-Cumberland County EMA officials want to recognize their dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.
Interim Communications Director Rick Williams said dispatchers are oftentimes the “unsung heroes” during an emergency response.
“They’re our first first-responders. They answer the call, they take charge of the people on the line, and really make sure they get the information that’s needed for our other responders,” Williams said. “They’re really the engines behind every incident. So this is our week to celebrate them every day because they’re not out in the public and the public does not see them every day.”
Cumberland County Dispatcher Shalee Sapp said the job requires them to stay calm even in the most extreme situations.
“It really starts from that first call. We figure out what’s going on with the situation, what they need, who we need to send to them and what they need,” Sapp said. “[Also], what kind of resources they might need from EMS to city police officers, county fire… It’s all a group effort and we just do the best we can to get the community the help that they deserve.”
Williams said dispatchers across the country deserve as much recognition as other emergency personnel.
“I think one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve got since I’ve taken over the dispatch [is that] it’s not your emergency, it’s the emergency of the person on the phone,” Williams said. “You really have to be calm and really take charge of the situation, and really make sure you get the information that’s needed so you can get them the help they need.”
The National Emergency Number Association (NENA), also known as The 911 Association, reports nearly 240 million emergency calls are made in the United States each year. Approximately 80 percent are made via mobile devices in most areas.
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week runs through Saturday, April 20.