On Monday, April 10th, at 1 p.m. sharp, there was a gathering inside the Justice Center, for the signing of a proclamation, by the County Chair, Cedric Schnitzler. The decree provided a high degree of recognition for the instrumental role that the Public Safety Telecommunicators play in the protection and wellbeing of Monroe County, by declaring the week of April 9th through the 15th, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, for 2023.
Roughly 30 people, representing different agencies from around the county, gathered for the signing, in an overwhelming sign of support of the proclamation. Sheriff Wesley D. Revels started the wheels rolling, by introducing the safety organizations present, and in some cases, the representatives from those organizations. “It looks like we have representatives from Sparta Ambulance, Sparta Fire, the town of Lincoln, Brianna - one of our newer communicators, Chief Solomon – from the Village of Wilton - now retired from Homeland Security, Emilee Nottestad -Chief of Police for Sparta, and everyone else, thanks for being here.” Revels also quipped on the last name of the Herald editor, who was there to mark the event in publication. “Most of you know Benny Mailman, although he is not a mailman. He will be taking photos of the signing and the dispatch center.”
After the introductions and a few laughs, the close-to-30 crowd formed a horseshoe shape, with Monroe County Chair, Cedric Schnitzler, seated at the center. Schnitzler read the proclamation out loud:
National Public Safety Telecommunicators
Week April 9 – 15, 2023
Whereas emergencies can occur at any time that require police, fire or emergency medical services; and,
Whereas when an emergency occurs the prompt response of police officers, firefighters and emergency medical providers is critical to the protection of life and preservation of property; and,
Whereas the safety of our police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical providers is dependent upon the quality and accuracy of information obtained from citizens who telephone the Monroe County 9-1-1 Communications Center: and,
Whereas Public Safety Telecommunicators are the first and most critical contact our citizens have with emergency services; and,
Whereas Public Safety Telecommunicators are the single vital link for our police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical providers by monitoring their activities by radio, providing them information and ensuring their safety; and,
Whereas Public Safety Telecommunicators of the Monroe County 9-1-1 Communications Center have contributed substantially to the apprehension of criminals, suppression of fires and treatment of patients; and,
Whereas each dispatcher has exhibited compassion, understanding and professionalism during the performance of their job in the past year;
Therefore, Be It Resolved that the County Board of Monroe County, Wisconsin declares the week of April 9 through 15, 2023, to be National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Monroe County, Wisconsin, in honor of the men and women whose diligence and professionalism keep our county and citizens safe.
As Schnitzler’s black-inked autograph soaked into the parchment, photos were taken by the Herald, to mark the moment for posterity. After a round of applause, Telecommunicator Supervisors, Pat Deethardt and Amanda Revels, led the attendees downstairs, to the 911 dispatch center. Once everyone arrived, Public Safety Telecommunicator, Krista Perkins, held the curious audience’s attention, by explaining the different aspects of what a public safety telecommunicator’s job entails. Each station had a telecommunicator manning 7 computers, plus other memos. Perkins explained what each computer was utilized for, and she did so with enthusiasm and vigor. Any question that was posed, had a reply initiated by Perkins, before the query was fully completed.
At the entrance of the room, there were 70 cupcakes, arranged and decorated in the form of a flag. Three rows up, there was a yellow line of cupcakes, known as the “Thin Gold Line.” The Thin Gold Line represents the men and women who answer our calls when tragedy strikes. The dispatchers of our nation offer a calm voice, with the promise of the help we need, when times of crisis occur. The Thin Gold Line will always stand as strong and united, as the country they protect.
In Monroe County, Telecommunicators dispatch for 23 Police stations, fire and EMS agencies, according to their website. They handle approximately 80,000 calls annually; 11,000 of those calls are 911 emergencies. Telecommunicator Supervisor, Pat Deethardt, informed the Herald that his department handles a lot more than people realize. “We are law enforcement dispatch primarily, but we also have to dispatch fire and EMS, when we receive those calls,” Deethardt explained. “The DNR wardens will communicate with us when they come into our county [Monroe], as well as the Canadian Pacific Railroad police. We are their dispatcher while they are in our county. We also answer the nonemergency calls and after-hours calls too. If a waterpipe breaks, we get the call and then contact the water company. If someone passes away and we get the call, we call the medical examiner. We are pretty involved in everything.”
On the stressful part of the job, Amanda Revels stated,” You do not always get the opportunity to get up and walk away after a call. Once you hang up the phone, you may have to pick it right back up.”
Both Deethardt and Revels spoke to the importance of keeping a calm demeanor in their field. “We have to stay calm for the caller and for the responders,” Deethardt said. “If our voice seems elevated on the radio, that might amp them [respondrs] up. We want them to respond as effectively as they can.”
It was a day where well-deserved recognition was given to the 911 dispatchers, who act as the hub of an all-important wheel; the wheel that helps people in crisis attain the realization that they are not alone, and that professional help is on the way. The calm, comforting and diligent efforts put forth by the Public Safety Telecommunicators in Monroe County were celebrated by all the departments and agencies they assist. Amanda Revels stated, “It is nice to have the recognition for the dispatchers here, for all the work that they do. A lot of times they go unseen, and people do not realize the amount of work that they do. Today gives us that opportunity to thank them.”
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