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911 Dispatchers seek recognition as first responders for Telecommunicators Week

The work of Livingston County’s 911 dispatchers will be recognized starting Sunday.

Each year, Congress designates the second week of April as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week to honor the estimated 300,000 men and women that are a part of the country’s 911 system.

This year’s theme is “Holidays” with dress up days planned each day for the different holidays. The observation will culminate on Friday with a ceremony where awards will be presented for; Critical Incident, Life Saving, Stork and Employee of the Year.

One thing that officials are hoping to highlight is the fact that even though they take emergency calls, dispatch police, fire and EMS to calls, give CPR instructions, assist citizens in delivering babies, tell someone how to control bleeding and give instructions when people are trapped in a burning building, they are still considered “clerical support” by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), while school crossing guards are considered a first responder.

Many counties across the country, as well as the State of Indiana, have signed bills that recognize their dispatchers as first responders.  However, Michigan is not one of those states.

In February, many dispatchers went to Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers for the “911 Goes To Washington Conference“ in an attempt to get them on board to make the change.  Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) was supportive, especially after the national attention garnered by Ingham County dispatcher Aimee Barajas, whose voice calmly provided information and instructions to responders during the Feb. 13th mass shooting on the Michigan State University campus.

“It is amazing that another year has come and gone, and another year of incredible service has been provided by our 911 telecommunications professionals,” stated Joni Harvey, State 911 Administrator and former Deputy Director for Livingston County 911. “As new technology, staffing challenges, and a higher demand and need for top quality services evolve, our 911 telecommunicators are always there to meet these challenges head-on while providing the best service available. As each year passes, it becomes clearer the vital role our 911 telecommunicators serve in emergency services. Recognizing and celebrating their endless hard work is not done often enough.”

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