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Imagine a job in which your main duty was to answer the phones, and every person that calls has a problem. Something has gone wrong, and it needs to be addressed immediately. Sometimes, the calls involve life-and-death situations.

That’s what 9-1-1 operators and dispatchers do daily. They are the front lines, manning the phones and radios 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year

Also called telecommunicators, they are the central clearing point for every emergency service organization.

The job requires nerves of steel. Under extreme duress, they calmly gather information, determine what response is required, then dispatch those resources.

And all of this must be done in a matter of seconds.

Someone must be on duty at all times, so they work odd hours — at times when we’re sleeping, enjoying a leisurely weekend or celebrating a holiday. If there is a 20-inch snowstorm, flooding, earthquake or other natural disaster, it’s even more important that they make it to work.

It’s a job that often goes unnoticed, much less unheralded.

It’s good to see that their efforts are being recognized. This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and the Missouri Highway Patrol is commending these workers for their tireless efforts to support field responders and provide critical services within the state of Missouri.

“Public safety communications personnel are an integral part of every law enforcement agency,” said Col. Eric Olson, the patrol’s superintendent. “I thank them for their dedication. I also want to commend the patrol’s communications personnel. They are living examples of our core values, and their professionalism and resourcefulness strengthen the Patrol’s tradition of excellence.”

So this week — especially — keep our local, county and state dispatchers in your thoughts and prayers.

News Tribune

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