Dispatchers celebrated during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The people who answer our 911 calls are operators, first responders, and so much more. This week is a chance to recognize them.
“It’s a chance for them to shine, for us to bring to light the hard work that they do everyday. They’re answering the 9-1-1 calls, the calls for help. They’re always heard, but rarely seen,” Jeremy Rabb, director of emergency services for the Shawnee Country Sheriff’s Office.
Rabb says it requires quick action and a calm demeanor to be a ‘headset hero,’ and talk people through some of the worst days of their lives.
“They’re trying to stay on top of what’s going on and get law enforcement and first responders dispatched to a scene. So, it’s highly stressful for them, and it’s a roller-coaster of emotions that they go through very often.”
The dispatchers not only assist callers, but work hand-in-hand with law enforcement, fire departments, and AMR teams to provide the quickest possible response to emergency scenes.
“They work with Sheriff deputies, Topeka law enforcement officers. Police officers from other smaller cities within Shawnee County, fire stations, rural fire, city fire. And they’re also co-located with AMR. AMR’s here as well so they work in our center with us,” said Rabb.
Despite a nationwide shortage in the field, Rabb says the position is expanding fast in Shawnee County.
“We’re sitting at 26 dispatchers, two call takers currently, and five people in training. So, our numbers have gone way up in the last year. We’re fortunate, nationally a lot of the centers are experiencing big shortages.”
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