Area emergency communications officers have been at the forefront recently as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week wraps up today.
National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week was established in 1981 to honor public safety telecommunicators (PSTs) across the country.
In a release commemorating the week, Gabe Elias, president of the Virginia Chapter of the Association of Public-Safety Commun-ications Officers, stated, “In emergency communications centers across the commonwealth, Virginia’s PSTs answer 911 calls from those in need. They provide life-saving medical and CPR instruction, walk families through childbirth, and calm callers in dangerous, life-threatening situations.
“Telecommunicators manage and coordinate police, fire, and emergency medical service responses, often during critical incidents, including active shooters, fires, and multi-vehicle collisions.”
He continued, “Whether on the phone with callers or on the radio with field units, telecommunicators are the calm during every storm.”
Locally, Covington City Council passed a proclamations honoring National Public Safety Telecommuni-cators Week. Supervisors in Bath County also recognized their efforts during Tuesday evening’s meeting.
“The Covington Division of Police has a professional and caring group of men and women that staff our dispatch center,” said Coving-ton Police Chief and Public Safety Director Anthony Morgan Friday morning. “They do an amazing job of multi-tasking during emergency situations.
“It takes a special person to be able remain calm when you have a citizen requesting assistance, officers talking and wanting information at the same time, and keeping it all together to ensure the right resources make it to a scene. Dispatchers work behind the scenes, without a lot of recognition for the great work they do. I am honored to work besides these public safety professionals.”
In Bath County, Public Safety Director Andy Seabolt added his praise to emergency communications officers.
“They’re the first people to get the call and they’re having to deal with a critical situation and have to deal with different facets of a situation in a rapid amount of time, “Seabolt said. “Even though we have standard operating guidelines in place, a lot of time they have to go off script. No event is like any other event and they sometimes have to do what needs to be done.
“I have had to sit in the seat for a couple of shifts and I don’t know how they do it,” he added. “It goes from hours of boredom to hours of sheer terror.
“They do an amazing job. I take my hat off to him. I wish we could do more for them and I love them. People think communications officers are just glorified individuals that sit around answering the phone, but it takes a toll on a body to have to go from sedentary to ‘boom’ there’s something going on in a split second.
“They’ve heard it all and they’ve dealt with it all. They’re the unsung heroes as far as I’m concerned,” Seabolt concluded.