April 7, 2017
Mayor Jack Blalock has proclaimed April 9th through April 15th Public Safety Telecommunicator Appreciation Week.
Portsmouth maintains a round-the-clock Public Safety Dispatch Center in its police department. Portsmouth Dispatchers are involved in Fire, Police, and medical emergencies, in addition to dispatching for Public Works emergencies after hours.
Dispatchers are there for you 24/7 in your time of need. While they are on the phone with you gathering information, they are doing ten other things. They are often simultaneously dispatching a police officer and or fire personnel to your location, they may be coordinating public works for a clean up or calling a wrecker for your vehicle, or attempting to call a family member on your behalf. Emergency calls do not come in one at a time, and it takes a unique set of skills to handle multiple unrelated calls for help, along with all the calls it takes to arrange that help, all at the same time. Dispatchers cannot make a single mistake, no matter how tired they are, or how many hours they’ve worked, they have to get it right every time.
Dispatchers wear many hats: in an instant, they might be giving parenting advice, providing suicide intervention, serving as a grief counselor, providing firework times and locations and more often than you might think, acting as a restaurant critic to out-oftowners who want to know what the best seafood place is in town. They know our city inside out.
In addition to managing all the radio traffic connected with every police and fire call, dispatchers also enter warrants, missing person reports, and other administrative tasks. They are known as “the golden glue that hold it all together”.
In signing the City Proclamation last week in his office, Mayor Blalock said, “Dispatchers are the critical, but unseen link between people in crisis and responding officers, firefighters, and EMTs. Their job is to keep all the parties connected so that public safety is maintained and help arrives for emergencies. Theirs is a demanding job, and the city is grateful for their skill and dedication.”