The Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM) recognizes April 9-15 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, an annual event that honors the critical role emergency response coordination professionals play in keeping the nation’s communities safe and secure.
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 in times of 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 OEM 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.”
Some 911 professionals are certified as emergency medical dispatchers (EMDs), emergency fire dispatchers (EFDs) or emergency police dispatchers (EPDs). 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.