On most days, they're the last people you want to talk to. However, when things go wrong - even terribly wrong, their mere presence on the phone can drop your pulse rate by 50 beats while assuring help is on the way.
We are of course, speaking of 'Public Safety Telecommunicators', or in normal citizen speak: the folks who answer your 9-1-1 call and coordinate the timely response of law enforcement, fire fighting and emergency medical service personnel.
April 8-14, 2007 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
While their effort assisting 9-1-1 callers is largely known, you may not be familiar with other aspects of their work. An essential task - or should we call it multi-task, is accounting for many emergency responders at any given moment.
In the City of Los Angeles, the duty of answering calls and coordinating those responding to Fire Department emergencies falls upon a small cadre of specially trained Firefighters who staff the LAFD Operations Control Dispatch Section (OCD).
As veteran rescuers trained in the actual control of emergencies, their "virtual presence" is an asset not only to 9-1-1 callers, but also to their fellow Firefighters - who respond to emergencies within our City an average of 1,996 times each day.
Thursday's wildfire in Beverly Hills was by no means a monumental incident, yet it and other wind-driven events placed a significant burden upon the four individual Firefighter/Dispatchers at OCD who alone controlled two very busy hours of radio traffic in protecting the more than 4 million residents of Los Angeles while dispatching - and controlling on average, one new incident every 15 seconds.
Hearing is Believing...
To give you some idea of their task, we have created a series of unedited multi-channel recordings of LAFD Control and Tactical radio frequencies that were being actively controlled and monitored by these four Firefighters during yesterday's fire.
We think these authentic, overlapping in real-time recordings speak loudly of the devotion and capabilities of the LAFD Firefighter/Dispatchers assigned to OCD. Please have a listen, we think you'll agree:
The Next 20 Minutes
The Next 50 Minutes
Please join us then in saluting the men and women of OCD and all who 'Answer The Call'. To learn more about National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, please visit:
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department