As we celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators (April 13-19) my mind goes to the incredible psychological load that all our 911 professionals bear daily to deliver the 24/7/365 service upon which their field responders and we as citizens have come to rely. Much of the focus of the 911 Wellness Foundation this week and ongoing is on the frontline telecommunicator. And rightly so, given the unique stress of their work.
Yet the accomplishments of our Very First Responder depend on the support of the entire local 911 family: you, the supervisors who often still take calls and dispatch even as you provide moment-to-moment support to call-takers and dispatchers on “the floor”; you, the managers and directors who run constantly between the center and a multitude of people and projects to keep your center running, advancing, funded, and your people well; you, administrative assistant living in the hub of the PSAP’s whir and hum, working to keep everyone else on task; you, the training coordinators who develop, conduct, seek out, and handle all the logistics of securing and documenting participation in quality training for their telecommunicators; you, the Quality Assurance officers who (in many agencies) listen to thousands of calls in a career–the good, the bad, the ugly–and often must re-live the distress experienced by all originally involved; and you too, the IT Pros who face constant maintenance and repair demands, planning and overseeing equipment upgrades and frankly a lot other stuff I don’t understand!
And, just as you intend it, these entire 911 operations run silently behind the emergency scene, completely outside the view or full consideration of most citizens. The systems you create and operate enable the caller in peril to simply pick up the phone in that moment of great need, punch those three digits and, magically, gain instant access to all the area’s emergency services.
The 911 Wellness Foundation recognizes that the shared stress experienced by all of you 911 professionals (“911Pros”) is enormous–and that by the very nature of your work conditions you have little opportunity to come together in one place at one time as a 911 family, to take a deep breath and reflect with pride and mutual appreciation on how you as a team achieve the remarkable success the rest of us have come to take for granted. We know too that you don’t do this work for the praise of others and that your greatest reward is from the satisfaction of knowing you help save lives.
Still, those of us who work in support roles to you 911Pros can at least help create a rewarding moment by duly acknowledging your vital role in our communities: so we at the Foundation cheer you on and offer our deep respect for the enormous value and complex stress of your work, and the role that you, collectively, play in providing our nation, our communities and our own families with a security upon which we can rely in life’s worst moments.
THANK YOU, 911!
May you enjoy health and joy in your own lives within and beyond the PSAP–and an ever-deepening appreciation for each other. You deserve it!
With gratitude and in behalf of the 911WF Board of Trustees,
Jim Marshall, Chair & CEO