The second week of April has been designated “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week” in order to recognize the public safety telecommunicators and dispatchers.
Wellesley has ten public safety dispatchers (telecommunicators) that work in the Wellesley Police Department’s Emergency Communication Center. Two dispatchers are always on duty, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The dispatch staff answers every 9-1-1 emergency call for service within Wellesley, and dispatches every call for the Fire Department, Police Department, and ambulance service.
Dispatchers are the most important links in providing efficient public safety services to a community such as Wellesley. They are ALWAYS the first voice a caller hears when reporting an emergency. Dispatchers often have to calm upset, scared, and sometimes hysterical callers in order to find out what, and where the problem is. Often times, they have to provide life-saving instructions over the phone. Such as, instructing a caller how to perform CPR on a victim without a heartbeat, or coaching someone through the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim. In addition to providing life saving instructions, dispatchers must also multi-task, sending the appropriate first responders from different agencies to the scene, and ensuring that key information is being passed along. For example, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, dispatchers were tasked with asking callers pre-screen questions on every call to determine the level of COVID risk and exposure to first responders.
Dispatchers are the vital link on the other end of the radio when a firefighter or police officer needs help. They can often tell, just by the tone of a first responder’s voice or word choice, that something is amiss and already have additional units on the way to help.
Wellesley Dispatchers have a myriad of other skills they employ each time they enter the communications center. They keep track of every unit from the police department, fire department, and EMS, completely log every incident that occurs, navigate through Federal, State, and local computer databases, and answer hundreds of non-emergency phone calls that come in to the communications center. Dispatchers are often the liaisons to other communities’ police and fire departments, coordinating mutual aid when it’s needed.
During the height of the pandemic, dispatchers continued to report to work despite the dangers and at the time, the uncertainty of the virus. Dispatchers didn’t have the luxury of working from home.
We want to take this opportunity, during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, to thank our hardworking, dedicated, and loyal dispatchers who serve the Town of Wellesley every day, and take care of our First Responders and Wellesley.
Thanks Rob (18 years of service), Kelly (16 years of service), Therese (15 years of service), Matt (10 years of service), Katie-Lee (7 years of service) Bianca (2 years of service), Michelle and Kate, (both with 2 years of service) and our newest members Samantha and Sarah (1 year of service).
Editors Note: The photo above is of Wellesley Dispatchers working a midnight shift that was selected to be on the front cover of the textbook "Police Manager."