National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which is April 10-16, is a time to remember the vital role telecommunicators play in receiving and dispatching first responders to deal with emergencies.
The county’s 911 Communications Center answers all 911 calls in Forsyth County that are outside the City of Winston-Salem. The center has 32 telecommunicators that receive about 113,000 911 calls.
“These professional truly are the “first” first responders,” said 911 System Manager Herb Swaim.
The center also answers 80,000 non-emergency calls a year from alarm monitoring companies for fire and medical alarms, other public safety agencies and from the general public for information.
If firefighters or paramedics are needed for a call, 911 telecommunicators will dispatch Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or local fire departments to those incidents. Callers that need a law enforcement response are transferred to the Sheriff’s Communications Center.
The Sheriff’s Communications Center currently has 28 telecommunicators that receive an average of 17,000 emergency 911 calls a year. They also handle non-emergency calls to the Sheriff’s Office and receive an average of 122,000 of those calls a year.
“We work behind the scenes 365 days 24/7 to keep our community safe,” said Sheriff’s Office Communications Supervisor Ashley Conrad. “We may not be seen out in the field, but we still 'show up' with the calm voice in the middle of a storm. This is more than just a job; but about keeping watch when our community and FCSO Family members need us most.”
Public Safety telecommunications is a mentally demanding job that involves constantly responding to a variety of emergencies, and they play a vital role in getting residents the help they need in a crisis.