You might not know it, but the week of April 13-19 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, an opportunity to remember those who serve our communities in a vital capacity.
Public safety is everyone’s concern. Whether on the job, at school, at home, or on the road, when an emergency happens, having a lifeline to help can mean the difference between life and death. Linking someone in trouble with first response personnel is the corner stone of public safety.
But it’s easy to take for granted that that this invisible lifeline staffed by faceless angels is maintained and manned by dedicated professionals who work tirelessly in a profession that is much more than a career. It’s a vocation, a calling to serve others and make their communities safer places.
That’s why in 1981, Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County California Sherriff’s Office decided it was time to honor the men and women who provide emergency telecommunications. National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week was at first observed only at Patricia’s agency. But the need was evident, and the idea grew.
Local chapters of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) in Virginia and North Carolina took up the banner in the mid 1980’s, and by the turn of the decade, APCO was advocating for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week at the national level. Finally, in 1991 Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced H.J. Res. 284 and the long overdue tribute to emergency response telecommunicators became a national event.
President George Bush followed the House Resolution with a Presidential Proclamation in 1992. President Bush noted that:
“Public safety telecommunicators are more than a calm and reassuring voice at the other end the phone. They are knowledgeable and highly trained individuals who work closely with other police, fire, and medical personnel…. Our Nation enjoys the highest standards of public health and safety in the world, and we owe a great debt to the men and women who, by applying their expertise in telecommunications, help to make that achievement possible. During this special observance, we acknowledge that debt and extend a heartfelt thanks to each of them.”
President Bill Clinton also issued a Proclamation honoring National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, in which he thanked those who keep us safe:
“These dedicated men and women are more than anonymous voices on the telephone line. They are local police, fire, and medical professionals who use public safety telecommunications to quickly respond to emergency calls. They are also Federal public safety officials who use telecommunications for everything from drug interdiction to protecting forests to promoting conservation. We rely on their knowledge and professionalism as they make critical decisions, obtain information, and quickly dispatch needed aid…. I urge all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, activities, and appreciation for these outstanding individuals.”
There are between 200,000 to 500,000 public safety specialists in the country working every day, saving lives every day, every day making a difference. KOVA wishes to honor them and the critical service they provide.