CAMBRDIGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — They are often called the very first responders when there is crisis.
Their voices are heard over the phone and radios but they rarely seen.
They are emergency dispatchers -- answering volumes of calls from the public in a 9-1-1 center across the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
To get that help where it is needed, one dispatcher takes down the info while another begins assigning emergency crews: Police, Fire, and/or Emergency Medical Services to the scene. In rare instances in smaller communities, a sole dispatcher might be doing all of those tasks.
Since 1981, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (April 14-20), recognizes those who answer those calls.
Sending helping help isn't the only thing dispatchers do.
“They provide medical instruction over the phone, they provide safety instructions to individuals that been involved in criminal activities,” said Christina Giacobbe, Diector of Emergency Communications for the City of Cambridge.
According to Giacobbe their role in public safety is vital, and the importance of their work is unquestionable.
She says that no one could do their jobs if it weren't for the dispatcher who is the first point of contact for anyone who's having any kind of an emergency.
“Sometimes we forget this,” she said.
Giacobbe said even when faced with the most difficult circumstances, dispatchers must be calm and prepared, and must be able to maintain a positive attitude to help every frightened, distressed, or angry caller.
This comes from extensive training. In order to be an emergency dispatcher, one must be certified by the Commonwealth after passing a training academy. After that, they spend months in additional training before they are allowed to take a call on their own, Giacobbe said.
As a token of appreciation, Cambridge dispatchers are being treated by their supervisors this week.
According to Giacobbe breakfasts and dinners are being planned as well as some wellness activities.
“We really want to take this week and recognize them for the hard work they do, the stressful job that they do and sometimes the unnoticed work that occurs in the field,” she said.
WBZ NewsRadio’s Carl Stevens (@CarlWBZ) reports.