The week of April 11 – 17 has been declared National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. Sponsored by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, this week honors the many telecommunications professionals who aid in providing 9-1-1 emergency assistance to citizens everywhere.
Every day, millions of people depend on the skill, expertise and commitment of public safety telecommunications professionals who help save countless lives by responding to emergency calls, dispatching emergency professionals and equipment as well as providing moral support to citizens in distress. The Covington-Newton County 911 Communications Center provides services for all of the Public Safety Agencies in Newton County. The Communications officers at the center answer all 911 calls for Newton County as well as other non-emergency lines. Communications officers handle on average over 20,000 telephone calls per month.
Communications officers are the lifeline for public safety. They dispatch the calls that are taken to the Police Officers, Deputies, Fire Fighters, Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians for all of Newton County including the cities of Covington, Mansfield, Porterdale, Oxford and Newborn. In addition, communications officers monitor the field unit’s radio traffic, respond to their individual requests and still answer the 911 and non-emergency lines. The term “9-1-1” is often associated with rapid emergency response, poise under pressure, aid and compassion in times of distress and critical decision-making within seconds. Many people don’t stop to think about the seemingly nameless, faceless individuals who answer 9-1-1’s call until they experience actual emergencies themselves. These telecommunicators make the difference between life and death in many instances.
The idea to designate a specific week to honor public safety telecommunicators was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office in 1981. APCO International was able to convince Congress of the need for a formal proclamation in October 1991. As of March 12, 2008 Congress has recognized the importance of 9-1-1 education and established the month of April as “National 9-1-1 Education Month”.