First Contact: Thankful for emergency telecommunicators

Thankful for emergency telecommunicators

Last week, some unsung heroes got a week of their own, during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. But the men and women who serve as the first contact for those seeking help deserve our appreciation and gratitude year-round. In Wood County alone, they deal with 10,000 calls a month — emergencies and nonemergencies. It is the ability to handle everything from a caller who has witnessed an accident on the highway to a person trapped in a housefire that sets these folks apart.

“Much of their job deals with multi-tasking,” said Wood County 911 Director Rick Woodyard.

It is the kind of multi-tasking that creates stresses most of the rest of us cannot imagine.

An emergency telecommunicator must be able to issue instructions for CPR over the phone one minute and keep on the line someone contemplating suicide the next. He or she must be able to extract as much information as possible from frantic callers and accurately pass that information along to first responders.

“If someone spends a little bit of time out here, by the end of the day, they will say ‘oh my gosh, it’s hectic,'” said telecommunicator first class Bob Mercer.

Hectic likely does not begin to describe some days.

Mid-Ohio Valley residents should be grateful for a group of dedicated people who have chosen to take on stress and responsibility most of us could not handle, so they can be the first contact — the first of the first responders — who keep us safe.