Neighborhood NewsGreat Falls - Cascade County


Recognizing the work of Public Safety Telecommunicators

Public Safety Telecommunicators
Posted at 6:11 PM, Apr 15, 2024

Public Safety Telecommunicators are the first point of contact in any emergency call, coordinating services and obtaining essential information to send the appropriate responders.

“We take about 45,000 calls a year and 80,000 non-emergency calls,” says 911 Center Director Karen Young, “the dispatchers can tell by the ringtone if it's an emergency or non-emergency”.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week honors and recognizes the life saving service they provide all over the country.

In Great Falls, Communications Officer Supervisor Leather Hersey coordinated with organizations the center works with to provide gifts showing appreciation for the dispatchers.

On Monday, the Great Falls Police Protective Association and Great Falls PD had provided lunch to the center.

At the end of the week, awards will be given to those dispatchers who have provided life saving instructions and assistance.

Each dispatcher is trained to handle stressful situations calmly, and to provide emergency medical services over the phone such as CPR instructions, choking, and childbirth.

Hersey explained how the center handles the difficult phone calls: “They call in on 911 because they're having an emergency. You're dealing with multiple people that may be having an emergency throughout the community all the time. So sometimes it's a little bit more serious than others and they can be pretty excited because it's something that hasn't happened to them before and they don't know how to deal with it. We have a lot of training that is set forth for our dispatchers to be able to handle those calls effectively and talk calmly to them and try and gain their confidence, so that they can tell them about what's happening and we can get the best help that they need."

A minimum of three dispatchers work at the center at a time, each assigned to certain services.

One handles calls regarding Fire and Medical Services, another does the Cascade County Sheriff's Office and rural fires, and one is solely dedicated to the Great Falls Police Department.

The call center is also currently short staffed, if you’re interested in exploring Public Safety Telecommunications as a career path, click here.