Oregon Celebrates National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

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Governor Kotek and Oregon Department of Emergency Management honor the state’s dedicated 911 professionals

April 14-20 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, an annual event that honors the essential role emergency response coordination professionals play in keeping our communities safe and secure. Governor Kotek has proclaimed this week as Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in the state and encouraged all Oregonians to join in the observance.

Oregon has 43 standalone 911 centers known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) that serve as the first and single point of contact for people seeking immediate relief during an emergency. Nearly 800 dedicated telecommunicators across the state answer at least 2 million emergency calls annually for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services. These 911 professionals respond to emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment, and render life-saving assistance during intense personal crises and community-wide disasters.

“Oregon’s 911 telecommunicators are heroes devoted to public safety and helping others. They work long hours, remaining calm in all types of situations and quickly constructing plans of action based on limited information,” said Oregon Department of Emergency Management State 911 Program Manager Frank Kuchta. “These individuals are lifelines in an emergency, and this annual observance honors their skills, dedication and commitment to helping Oregonians.”

Many 911 professionals are certified as Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD) and receive training on how to process requests for medical assistance and how to dispatch medical providers. Others go on to receive specialty training in crisis intervention, law enforcement support, tactical dispatching, and other topics. Some even go on to receive intermediate and advanced certifications and become leaders in the field. All 911 professionals work diligently behind the scenes to help citizens during emergencies ranging from mental health crises, car accidents, missing person reports, burglaries and domestic violence disturbances. Since early 2020, Oregon’s public safety telecommunicators have had the added responsibility of serving throughout a pandemic, historic wildfires, heatwaves, winter storms, floods and severe staffing shortages.

“On any given day, our public safety dispatchers have an incredibly stressful job; during the last several years, that’s been compounded as they’ve responded to unprecedented disasters in which they were the first to answer the call,” said Kuchta. “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week brings well-deserved attention and recognition to these invaluable professionals.”

The critical work of Oregon’s public safety telecommunicators directly supports the operations of federal, state and local government agencies, including emergency management, highway safety, and search and rescue. Oregon’s 911 program was established by the 1981 Oregon Legislature and is managed by the Oregon Department of Emergency Management. Learn more at Oregon.gov/OEM.

About Author

Chris Crabb is a Public Information Officer at the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, which coordinates and maintains a statewide emergency services system for emergency and disaster communications.

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