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Published on April 16, 2024
Oregon Governor Tina Kotek Proclaims Public Safety Telecommunicators Week to Honor 911 OperatorsSource: Oregon Department of Emergency Management

In a salute to the unseen heroes who respond first to cries for help, Governor Tina Kotek declared April 14-20 Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Oregon, joining the national observance that spotlights the critical role 911 operators play in emergency response. These professionals occupy the frontline of crises, handling over 2 million emergency calls a year, a lifeline for those in distress seeking law enforcement, fire, or medical assistance.

These telecommunicators, nearly 800 strong work across 43 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in Oregon, frequently tasked with remaining poised as they navigate through an individual's most desperate moments, and this week is about recognizing their unwavering commitment and expertise; "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," State 911 Program Manager Frank Kuchta lauded in the state's homage, as reported by Oregon Department of Emergency Management.

These emergency communication experts are not only required to field calls but also to render critical pre-arrival instructions that may very well mean the difference between life and death. Oregon's 911 professionals have bulwarked their skills with certifications such as Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD), crisis intervention, and even tactical dispatching to further support callers and responders during incidents ranging from mental health emergencies to natural disasters.

The burden they've shouldered has only amplified in the past years, with the resolute workforce battling not just the usual urgencies but also responding to the compounded challenges brought by a pandemic, historic wildfires, and even extreme weather events; "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," Kuchta acknowledged the added pressure on the 911 operators in his statement to Oregon Department of Emergency Management.

As Oregonians take this week to honor their 911 telecommunicators, the rest of the nation joins in shining a light on those whose daily endeavors enable the safety nets of our society to function, a tribute to the critical and life-saving work that supports the operations of myriad government agencies, from emergency management to search and rescue operations.