Monday, April 13, 2009

Honoring Dispatchers

National Public Safety Dispatcher Week

April 12-18, 2009 is National Public Safety Telecommunication Week. I want to take a special moment to personally honor the men and women who serve as public safety dispatchers for Levy County.

As Sheriff, I recognize the dispatchers’ play a pivotal role. They perform many different responsibilities that are absolutely crucial for the functioning of this department; just a few examples of the many roles they play include technical support, computer skills, answering complaints, dispatching calls with professionalism and efficiency when dealing with the public. Not only do they have to answer 9-1-1 calls, but they also dispatch to the Sheriff’s Office, Chiefland Police Department, Cedar Key Police Department, Inglis Police Department, Levy County Fire Service and Emergency Medical Services. If taking care of all emergency personnel in the County is not enough, the dispatchers also have to enter all missing persons, wanted persons, stolen tags and vehicles into the Florida Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center computer systems.

Dispatchers are truly the unsung heroes of public safety. Dispatchers sit in a dark room looking at computer screens and talking to voices from faces that they will never see. It’s like reading a great suspense novel but never getting to finish the chapters because the next impending call requires undivided attention.

When help is needed, the first person the citizens will speak to is a dispatcher. They are the calming influence of all and the quiet, competent voices in the night that provide the pillars for the bridges of sanity and safety. Dispatchers are required to make sense out of the frantic calls, no matter how angry or frightened or hurt the callers may be. Dispatchers meet the anxiousness and adrenalin of the terrified victims, angry citizens and suicidal people with reassurance and competency.

Dispatchers represent what it means to “multi-task”. At any one time, dispatchers are required to perform a myriad of tasks including questioning a caller reporting a crime in progress, typing information into a computer, dispatching a call while at the same time putting another caller on hold and answering the radio. Only a unique and talented person can perform this job well. The emotional roller coaster rolls to a stop after a 12 hour shift just to begin all over again the next day they work.

I regard the Levy County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers as the backbone to this department. In 2008, the Levy County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers handled 118,402 computer aid dispatch events, over 21,213 9-1-1 calls, 7,437 EMS calls, and 3,234 Fire Department calls. This is incredible, especially considering there are only 13 employees. I commend and honor the men and women for the fine job they do and the professional attitudes they exhibit while on duty. Your work does not go unnoticed and I thank you for a job well done.