Celebrating our unseen heroes; National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

This is a recurring recording of WBNG's 5pm Newscast.
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- During the second week of April, we celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in honor of the unseen heroes in the first responder world.

For 24 hours a day and seven days a week, they’re the first to answer the phone in the case of an emergency.

“They’re really unsung heroes of public safety,” said Broome County Office of Emergency Services Director Patrick Dewing. “Most people don’t know they’re there because they’re not out in the field, but each one in there really has a desire to help our community and that’s why they work in the 911 dispatch center.”

Dewing said each 12-hour shift consists of answering emergency and non-emergency calls from the public.

“It’s an extremely high stress job,” he said. “They’re not in the field, but they are still engaging with people often times on the worst day of their life. They’re calling in and people are often very stressed, they’re very upset, very emotional, and the dispatchers often have to navigate those types of phone calls.”

However, this line of work isn’t just about picking up the phone and directing first responders - it requires a particular set of skills and extensive training.

“We have a very thorough in-house academy, and training is always on-going. We’re always trying to better our dispatchers. We take mental health classes to better deal with mental health type scenarios and there’s all types of different training that’s always on going training. Training is a very big initiative here in the department to make sure we have the best dispatch staff possible,” said Dewing.

In addition, while the job is often rewarding, it can be a challenging line of work.

“We should acknowledge them all the time, but specifically during this week,” Dewing said. “They’re there 24/7, 365 to answer that phone and take that call. Anytime someone needs something, whether it be emergency or non-emergency situation, they’re there to take that call and get them the services they need.”

Partners with the Broome County Office of Emergency Services are planning to celebrate and thank dispatchers all week.

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