Role of telecommunicators in public safety

In this video, risk management expert Gordon Graham discusses the vital role telecommunicators play in maximizing public safety in their community

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for all my friends in public safety. I want to talk about the vital role our telecommunicators play in keeping the community and all first responders safe during our shifts.  

Every day across the country, thousands and thousands of people seek immediate assistance in times of crisis by doing what? Calling 9-1-1. Our first responders also rely on telecommunicators to answer their radio calls and provide various types of assistance. These telecommunicators are real people, just like you and me, providing a calm voice on the other end of the telephone or radio every hour of the day. They are behind the scenes and truly make a difference. Every successful emergency response begins with an emergency call for service. A well-trained telecommunicator can gather vital information that helps first responders understand what they may be facing before getting on the scene. 

What’s going on at the scene? Are there weapons or other safety hazards present? Is the engulfed structure still occupied? Is the suspect still on the scene? Is there a previous call history at the location? Is CPR being performed? Has the severe bleeding been controlled? These are several examples of vital and quality information telecommunicators can provide before your arrival. It’s important not to downplay or overlook the telecommunicators role as a first responder. They may not be the first to respond on scene, but they are the first to answer calls for assistance. The telecommunicator works hard to obtain necessary information from the caller, even on the simplest call for service. This ensures first responders have sufficient information about the call being sent to them. 

Although dispatching for law enforcement is different from dispatching for fire and EMS, one is no less or no more important than the other for the telecommunicator. These folks take responsibility for each first responder during their shift. And the telecommunicator’s number-one priority is preservation of life in your community and for the first responder. Telecommunicators should also remember that complacency kills. Dispatch the silent burglary alarm that has gone off multiple times before with sufficient backup. Send the appropriate fire response to investigate an elderly person’s report of seeing and smelling smoke as they’ve reported a dozen times before. It’s easy for all first responders to fall into the trap of complacency. But remember, the telecommunicator’s role is to serve as a vital link between those needing emergency assistance and an appropriate public safety first response.  

In closing, if I ever meet you, the telecommunicator, at a conference and I ask you what you do, please do not tell me, “Well, I’m just a dispatcher.” Don’t tell me that. Each of you, every one of you, is a vital component of maximizing public safety in your community.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off. 

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