Each year, the second full week in April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as Public Safety 9-1-1 Telecommunicators. Most people know to call 9-1-1 when they need help, but rarely do they stop to think about the seemingly nameless, faceless individuals who answer their calls. Those 9-1-1 Telecommunicators (Dispatchers) are the first Emergency Responders the public comes into contact with when they call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Every day, millions of people depend on the skills, expertise, and commitment of the men and women who work as Telecommunicators in Public Safety centers. Dispatchers help save lives by answering emergency phone calls, dispatching emergency professionals and equipment, and providing instructions and support to citizens in distress.
St. Croix County Dispatchers perform multiple tasks all while questioning, and often times trying to calm, frantic callers. They must obtain essential information from the caller, record facts into a sophisticated software system, signal their fellow dispatchers to send response personnel, be aware of other 9-1-1 calls, and filter out the constant noise of all other radio traffic and calls being answered by their fellow dispatchers. These Dispatchers also act in a role of protecting Emergency Responders in the field. They are a lifeline during critical events, they notify additional resources when asked and provide critical information to the Emergency Responders while enroute to emergency events. Using Emergency Medical Dispatch protocols, they are trained to provide instructions to callers before the arrival of ambulance crews and other first responders.
Dispatchers have two constant companions, other dispatchers and stress. They are berated by upset callers and taken for granted by others. Dispatchers have a variety of backgrounds, work history, schooling, and talents. With their differences, they bring a range of wisdom and experience when they enter the dispatch center. They work together as one highly functioning machine. They care about people and they take great pride in being the lifeline of society – that steady voice in a storm – the one who knows how to handle every emergency and does it with style and grace; and uncompromised competence. Many are volunteers on local ambulance services and fire departments.
The official name of the second week in April, according to a 1991 Congressional Declaration is “National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.” Current statistics show that there are over 200,000 Public Safety 9-1-1 Telecommunicators throughout the United States.
In St. Croix County, 18 dedicated and experienced 9-1-1 Emergency Telecommunicators staff the Communications Center, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. In 2016, they answered over 156,000 calls for service and dispatched over 94,000 incidents for 37-various Public-Safety Agencies.
The following members are recognized for their dedication and service: Steven Bahneman, Emergency Comm Systems Technician (37 Years); Thomas Barthman, Telecommunicator (29 Years); Kevin Kirby, Telecommunicator (18 Years); Robert Sutherland, Telecommunicator (18 Years); Brian Posner Telecommunicator Supervisor (16 Years ); Lecy Anne Marino, Telecommunicator (14 Years); Sherry Kirby, Telecommunicator (13 Years); Brian Duggan, Telecommunicator (13 Years ); Linda Jackson, Telecommunicator (13 Years); Dana Fortier, Telecommunicator Supervisor (9 Years); Chris Brunell, Telecommunicator (8 Years); Shelley Lansing, Telecommunicator (5 Years); Raquel Blok, Telecommunicator (5 Years); Kori Bacon, Telecommunicator (4 Years); Raymond Egan, Telecommunicator Supervisor (4 Years); Kaelly Wolfe, Telecommunicator (1 Year); Joe Elkin, Telecommunicator Reserve; Kim Eby, Telecommunicator Reserve.