Emergency dispatchers across Grayson County and the U.S. are being celebrated for their work this week in observance of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which concludes Friday.
Dispatchers with the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, Denison Police Department and Sherman Police Department said their centers had received numerous messages of public appreciation over just the first two days of the week.
“We’ve got themed days all week and different agencies and people have been calling us, and bringing us gifts or little thank you cards,” Grayson County Dispatch Center Assistant Supervisor Ivon Wood said. “It’s been real nice.”
Telecommunicators Week was first celebrated in California nearly 40 years ago, according to the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data lists roughly 95,000 emergency dispatchers working across the U.S. and more than 7,000 working in Texas.
“We take literally dozens, if not more than 100, calls here every day,” Denison Public Safety Dispatcher Andrew Baldridge said. “A lot of them are very mundane and run-of-the-mill, but every single time the phone rings, you have to be prepared for it to be a true emergency situation and be ready to get on top of it. There really is no typical day.”
Sherman Police Sgt. Brett Mullen described dispatchers as the “first-first responders when an emergency occurs” and said they relay critical information to law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics. But Mullen said Sherman’s dispatchers are also trained to share crucial information with callers as they wait for assistance to arrive at their location.
“Our dispatchers are trained in what’s called Emergency Medical Dispatch,” Mullen said. “Through that training, they’re able to provide life-saving instructions over the phone, like helping people administer CPR or even deliver a baby.”
Grayson County Dispatch Supervisor Jami Brown said Telecommunicators Week offers dispatchers the chance to lighten the mood amid the seriousness of their work, but regardless of recognition, dispatchers remain dedicated to their work every day.
“The lows are when you talk to someone and they’re at their last breaking point,” Brown said. You can’t talk them out of it and you hear them take their own life. That is the deepest sorrow for me,” Brown said. “But the high is being able to get even one person the help they need, as soon as possible, and to still be a voice of calm in the chaos, for them. That’s ultimately what we’re hear for.”