In the month of April, time is taken out to recognize and appreciate the 9-1-1 Dispatchers that tirelessly work behind the scenes. The dispatchers who are never seen but always heard, the voice behind the blue and red, the thin gold line.
The NPSTW rolls around only once a year. For a dispatcher that one week can make a difference in their career. Day in and day out, they receive calls from people who are facing their worst day. There are not many happy callers who want to talk to someone, it is someone facing a crisis.
It's not an easy job to hear that every day. It's not easy to talk to so many suicidal callers you lose track. It's not easy to talk to multiple domestic violence victims and tell them they are doing the right thing. It's not easy to talk to kids who are hearing arguing and fighting in their home. It's not easy hearing the screams of an injured person who has called for help.
Dispatching requires not only being able to take those calls but in some agencies to be able to manage a radio channel at the same time. In some cases multiple radio channels. There are times when it is non-stop and getting a break for food, water or basic life needs is near impossible. They keep on doing the job, no matter what.
The job isn't easy. Those going into the job may or may not know this. They may have an idea of what awaits on the other side of the headset. My first day in dispatch was a rude awakening. I came from a life of no law enforcement or emergency dispatch at all. It was a shock to me but in a good way.
Life in dispatch is one that is not suited to every person. Those who take on the headset are a special breed all their own. They do what no one else would dare to do. They do the job that gets little respect. It is not full of the glitz and glamour that people associate with law enforcement officers and firefighters, who are seen by all and when they do amazing things and save lives they are hailed as heroes.
Dispatchers sit in the dark with their multiple screens, talking to the woman who has lost her child. Walking a person through CPR on a family member. Sending help to those who are contemplating suicide or have already tried. Their voice the one of calm and reason. A light in a very dark world for some. The first point of contact when they reach out to help, maybe for the very first time.
The Public Safety Telecommunicator is a hero. They back the blue and the red. They serve their communities with everything from a simple phone transfer or instructions that will save their lives. Don't forget to thank the invisible heroes. The voice of the thin gold line. They hold fast when the world is falling down.