Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Beryl Wernberg

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week - April 8-14, 2012


This is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week - April 8-14, 2012- dedicated to the men and women who serve as 911 Dispatchers in our PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Point) AKA Dispatch Centers.

Here is the history on dispatchers and how this week came to be. Let us celebrate and honor our dedicated 911 dispatchers, the men and women of Beltrami County, as well as around the country. They are truly the lifeline for our citizens.

Dispatchers have existed for about as long as the phone has, although they used to be called “switchboard operators” and connected all calls, not just emergency ones. At that time, operators were often the ones who found the best emergency support, provided additional contact information, and even set off the town fire alarm.

When people were granted the ability to dial phone numbers themselves, many screamed out in terror at the loss of the diligent, early-era dispatchers. How could they afford to lose these amazing assets? In brief, they couldn’t. ”Dial 0 for emergencies” was popular until the beginning of 911 history, which became the official emergency response line in 1968.

Dispatchers continue to adapt to new circumstances, implement new technologies, and save countless lives. Today, they are the first line of defense between a frantic population and imminent disaster.

Well, that’s what Patricia Anderson thought back in 1981 when she first proposed the idea of a Public Safety Telecommunictors holiday. The idea was so spot on that it spread through other U.S. areas and eventually made its way onto national legislation. In 1992, supporters pushed celebrations to a national level by successfully getting the second full week in April declared “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week”—although we mostly shorten it to NTW now, what with our desire to breathe every once in a while—and it has been an official holiday ever since.

In his 1994 Presidential Proclamation, President Clinton described the purpose of NTW well:

America’s public safety telecommunicators serve our citizens daily in countless ways. The work of these “unseen first responders” is invaluable in emergency situations, and each of these dedicated men and women deserves our heartfelt appreciation. . . . This week is a time for a grateful Nation to show its appreciation and to recognize that our health, safety, and well-being are often dependent on the commitment and steadfast devotion of public safety telecommunicators. (From the National Public Safety Telecommunications website.)

Mrs. Beryl Wernberg

911 Supervisor/Emergency Management Director

Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office

Bemidji MN 56601

218-333-8320 (office) 218-755-9322 (fax)


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