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The Paris Police Department is recognizing that National Telecommunicators Week is April 13th through the 19th this year. The week is set aside to honor those men and women who work in public safety 24 / 7 behind the microphones, computers and 9-1-1 systems.
Paris Chief of Police Bob Hundley states, “I like to think of our dispatchers as the ‘first responder on scene’ as they are the first contact the public has when the call for service comes in. These men and women work four 10 hour shifts a week with unusual hours. Shifts are scheduled for dispatchers based on historical call load. As in other public safety careers, weird shift hours, weekends and holidays become somewhat secondary to the work schedule.” The police department communications center is the local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for all of Paris and Lamar County. They are responsible for dispatching all public safety calls inside the city of Paris, EMS calls in the County and initial dispatch of volunteer fire departments in the county. 9-1-1 calls needing assistance in the county areas are routed to the Lamar County Sheriff’s communications center.
They perform their work under extreme pressure to get the location and what’s going on right the first time. “2 dimensional” conversations over a telephone can lead to misunderstandings. Choice of words, inflection of voice and stressed callers can really inhibit a full understanding of what’s happening. They work in a world that is error intolerant. How they get the information, what they say to the caller and what they say to the responding police, fire and EMS units can set the stage for a successful outcome, or complicate the response.
They have actually received phone calls on 9-1-1 from people who want to know if it is going to rain. While handling that call the next line rings with a call where a person is in cardiac arrest where no one on scene will do CPR, while answering a police officer who is pulling a vehicle over and EMS is checking out on a patient transfer call. You can tell you are around a seasoned dispatcher when they can carry on 4 different conversations at once and not miss a detail.
If you notice, a lot of media reports begin with, “A call to 9-1-1 reported…” These men and women take those calls and get the resources to our citizens when they need them in the worse way. Chief of Police Bob Hundley states, “We are very proud of our dispatch team; Kathy, Tony, Julia, Deneen, T.J., Kris, Kelly, Anita, Jennifer, Tammie, Candice, Angie and Robin. Thanks for taking care of us!”