The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's National Telecommunicator Appreciation Week!

Or, in short, thanks 9-1-1 dispatchers! Each year the second week in April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. Our 9-1-1 dispatchers are responsible for handling all 9-1-1 emergency calls generated in Cowlitz County. Many people are not aware that they also handle the receipt, disposition, and the documentation of telephone and radio calls in both routine and emergency matters for Law Enforcement and Fire Services. These are busy people!

The Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Communications Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is the responsibility of the dispatcher to accurately, and quickly, identify the nature of your call and assist in solving the problem.

In case you've ever wrestled with the question of whether or not to call 9-1-1, ask yourself these questions:

What is the level of urgency?

Is there a danger to life and property?

Is someone the victim of a crime?

Do you have a police emergency?

Does the caller or someone else have an immediate medical emergency?

Does the caller need the fire department?

If the public safety situation is urgent and has the potential of escalating by not making the call, the choice should be to contact 9-1-1. If you should call 9-1-1 by accident, DO NOT hang up. Stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that everything is all right. If you don't, the dispatcher is required to find out the situation and send a police officer to the location from which the call originated.

If you need help, but it is not an immediate emergency, you can call the non-emergency line at (360) 577-3090. When you make a 9-1-1 call, dispatchers will ask you several questions. Please don't take offense and scream at them to just get you help. When an emergency call comes in, one dispatcher will gather information, while another dispatcher dispatches the call to fire and/or paramedics. Answering questions and giving the appropriate information is not slowing down response time.

Dispatchers are trained to get as much information as possible to best determine the nature of the problem. The information that you provide can assist officers in determining what they will need in order to keep others safe and out of harms way. Also, please realize that the dispatchers are trained to perform many tasks at once. If they ask you to hold, it is because they are dispatching help to you! For more information about our local 9-1-1 Communications Center, click here.

If you do need to call 9-1-1, remember give the dispatchers "LIP", by that I mean:

LOCATION: Your exact location

IDENTITY: Your name and call back number

PROBLEM: Brief, exact description of the incident

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