No matter what day or hour, when an emergency occurs, people instinctively call 911. Those calls are quickly answered with “911, what’s your emergency?”
The concept of calling 911 is so ingrained, many people may erroneously believe the Universal Emergency Number has been around since the early days of the telephone. The first 911 call, however, was made only 52 years ago in Haleyville, Alabama.
Today, more than 240 million 911 calls are made in the U.S. each year, and another 12 million in Canada. Worldwide, more than 200 countries have implemented a national emergency number.
That’s why this week, we are saying “thank you” to the trained, dedicated professionals who not only answered the career calling, but who also answer our calls during an emergency. Whether American or Canadian, you are part of an elite group of public safety telecommunicators (PSTs).
First line of response
You are the first line of response for every conceivable life and death emergency. On any given shift, you hear anything from a baby’s first cry to a dying breath. You’re also put in a position to overhear life-threatening, often violent, altercations between a victim and an aggressor.
Sometimes, you’re forced to handle emergencies that aren’t emergencies at all – someone seeking directions, or kids playing with a phone. Your phone never stops ringing.
As we recognize thousands of PSTs during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we understand the global pandemic of 2020 has created additional burdens for you. We sincerely hope you receive the praise and support you so richly deserve during this challenging time in our history.
A 24/7 career
While some members of a community work set schedules and enjoy weekends off, you don’t have that luxury. Working remotely is rarely possible, and the job doesn’t shut down at night, on weekends, or holidays.
During large-scale events, you’re working overtime, sometimes 12- or 14-hour days. While schools and daycares have been shuttered for the pandemic, your job requirements – and stress levels – have only increased. Your voice, however, remains a source of calm professionalism.
This week and every week, we honor and thank you – the men and women behind the scenes who are a source of peace in a storm of fear and uncertainty, and whose actions save lives – all year long.