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Telecommunicators Possess Sprinter’s Mindset to Relay Life Saving Information to First Responders, 911 Callers

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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With the Olympic Games just around the corner, there’s a fitting analogy to be made when it comes to just how important, crucial, really, that the role of public safety telecommunicators and dispatchers provide in responding to an emergency.

Because if you’ve ever watched one of the relay races, in which a team of four (very fast) men and women compete against one another to win, the importance of the first runner is significant for the fact that they need a much more explosive takeoff than the others since they’re leg begins by standing still.

And that’s not unlike the public safety telecommunicators and dispatchers, who must respond so quickly with every 911 call or text from someone who’s in distress. It’s in that moment, they’re expected to get off to a fast start, effectively manage the situation and obtain the essential information – before they hand off the proverbial baton, so to speak, and relay it all to emergency medical service providers, firefighters, law enforcement officers and others. Telecommunicators also give important instructions to callers to help save lives.

To honor their vital contributions, we celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, at this time of year. Here in Indiana, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb proclaimed the third week of April 2024 as Public Safety Telecommunicator Week in Indiana and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and IDHS Executive Director Joel Thacker encourages public safety agencies and residents statewide to recognize the important work these professionals do and to share appreciation for them.

At a time when digital technology and cybersecurity is more important than ever, in keeping these systems secure and protected, including our 911 centers across Indiana – and throughout the country -- the work of these professionals is continuing at a rapid pace in an ever-changing, you-can’t-always-predict-what’s-going-to-happen-next routine.

In response, public safety agencies possess the ability to rely on practical solutions, including four steps to help mitigate potential threats. And, through the state, there are a wealth of recently updated, free-to-download resources, including the Indiana Emergency Manager Cybersecurity Toolkit 2.0 that features a wide range of best practices and detailed plan templates, as well as an Emergency Manager Cyber Situational Awareness Guide and a Cybersecurity Training and Exercise Guide. All of these materials are ideal tools for helping an emergency manager to begin conversations with their team and even their partners to arrive at solutions that make sense as simply and directly as the complexity of the effort allows.

Nationally, there are more than 90,000 public safety telecommunicators in the U.S., answering more than 240 million calls to 911 each year, and, in Indiana, there are more than 2,000 telecommunicators on the job, protecting Hoosiers every day.

As we salute their tireless efforts, you can visit the Telecommunicators Week page on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website and read just a few stories highlighting their efforts, as recognized by the Indiana Statewide 911 Board in 2023.

It’s safe to say, as evidenced by their actions, and those who serve, that their quick response, is something that’s deserving of a podium finish, knowing that another race awaits!