The Value of the "One" in 9-1-1

By Ryan Chambers

For National Telecommunicators Week, we at RapidDeploy would like to take a moment to thank and recognize the first, first responders, the unsung heroes of response; without whom, the system would not work - the telecommunicators.  Thank you for your priceless influence and dedication to the safety and well-being of citizens and responders, as you serve the entire Public Safety Family. Your work is truly heroic!

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Each year there are 240+ million 9-1-1 calls made in the United States.  These calls are routed to over 6,100 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), or 9-1-1 communications centers.   This industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry during the transition from the incumbent legacy system to the modern-day Next Generation 9-1-1 cloud-based service.  Today’s 9-1-1 system handles every call, while systematically processing each request for service to make sure the proper response is initiated.  This may sound simple, but there is one key variable to ensure everything works; the professional Public Safety Telecommunicator.

Today in the US there are 27,228 fire departments utilizing 58,150 fire stations, estimated 21,283 EMS agencies, and 17,985 law enforcement agencies.   These numbers total to approximately 8 million field responders that stand ready to respond to every call for service.  Before the lights and sirens are switch on, a lot of work must be done in a matter of seconds.  Starting with “911, where is the location of your emergency?”

9-1-1 Telecommunicators face the extreme challenges of location accuracy, advanced protocols, physical and mental health, long work shifts, and difficult work environments, high call volumes in understaffed centers, all while maintaining a high level of training.   During the first 90 seconds of a call for help, these professionals gather information while dealing with citizens during the worst times of their lives.  Handling calls from hysterical callers who beg for help while they watch their world fall apart.  Often reporting loss of life, loss of property, or reporting major crimes.  Once the call is dispatched out, the efforts leading up are often forgotten.  This is the first link in the chain.  If this link fails, the rest of the response is jeopardized.  These professionals are the heroes that often remain anonymous, faceless, and thank less.

No matter the amount of new technology, or billions of dollars invested, the priceless value of the telecommunicator is still measured in number of lives saved. The human element is still necessary and can make or break a response to an incident.

As the 9-1-1 industry continues to transform, we must remember to support and facilitate the work of the telecommunicators.  The implementation of cloud-based platforms offers the telecommunicator a better set of tools to perform their job; such as, advanced location services, unit location-based response plans, and improved communication options among all first responders, have greatly changed the modern 9-1-1 system. 

From all of us at RapidDeploy; thank you, Telecommunicators!

Lacey McDaniel