911, what is the address of your emergency?

Thousands of people hear this question asked of them every year.  Hear, but don’t answer, because their emergency is striking terror into their souls.  They scream back at the person who calmly asked them that question.  They rant, they rave, they cry, and they explain the terrible events that are taking place in their lives, without answering the question.

And then, ever so gently, ever so calming, but often with urgency, the question is repeated in some form or another, so that help can be sent.

That is the job of a 911 professional.  Unless you’ve experienced it, most cannot fathom it.  911, the FIRST, first responders.  The minute the 911 call is answered, they are transported to the scene with the caller.  The eyes, the ears, and even the nose must gather information and prepare the physical public safety responders for what they will face when they arrive.  And the 911 professionals do this, one call after another, with expertise and patience.

Add to this, technology that is rapidly changing.  With video 911 products like Equature’s Connect, for example, many 911 professionals will no longer fully rely on the callers to tell them what they are seeing, instead, they can see the scene for themselves and forward the video to the responders.  Preparing the responders in a way that has never been done before, but also, putting more stress and possibly more trauma on the call takers and dispatchers, as they see the scenes that before the advance in technology, they only visualized in their minds (disclaimer, Connect does offer a “blur” solution so the video doesn’t have to be seen by the dispatcher).  Early in my career, I took a suicide call.  The boyfriend clearly described his girlfriend’s method of death and the scene he was looking at.  That call was taken 40 years ago, I can still see his description in my mind, along with scenes from other calls of my own and those of the dispatchers I was responsible for over the years and whose calls I listened to.

It is said that 911 professionals are the unsung heroes of public safety.  I agree, but I wish I could give them even more than the badge of calling them unsung heroes.  The depth of gratitude and appreciation I have for the estimated 98,3001 men and women who have answered the call of this profession goes deep.  Many who try and do this as a career find themselves unable to continue.  They may make it three to six years and find the stress has overtaken their lives, many others do not make it that long.  Still others continue on, thriving and growing, and finding ways to give back to the 911 profession that they have found they love.

To all of you, we at Equature want to lift you up and tell you that beyond this month of April, beyond this week of National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, we are proud of you.  We applaud the work you do, and we are here, supporting you.

I personally would like to encourage you to reach out to me with any training ideas that you have that you would like to see us offer, and I will promise you that we will do what we can to put those courses in place before the next NPSTW comes along.  Thank you, all of you, for doing what you do.

–  Cherie Bartram, ENP,  PSAP Content Specialist cbartram@equature.com

1(“Establishing or Expanding a Public Safety Telecommunicator Training Program May 2022”)