National Telecommunicator Week began on April 13th, and this year four local operators were honored at the Grays Harbor E-911 Center’s board meeting on Tuesday. Director Peggy Fouts said “Every year the dispatch staff take the opportunity to recognize their peers, they vote amongst (sp) themselves to select the winners.” Fouts told the E-911 board “We are taking the opportunity to recognize 4 of our staff members, we have a total staff of 18 so recognition next week will be for the entire staff.”

  • Katie Johnson was selected to receive the Outstanding Sustained Job Performance Award for her continued knowledge and dedication.
  • Katie Woods was selected to receive the Critical Incident Award for her role in handling this CPR call.
          E911 call 2014 award
  • Shawna Ashlock is being recognized with the Special Projects Award for her on-going work to organize and maintain the CAD Premise History files that ensure that the employees and responders are aware of knox box locations, gate entry codes and locations where additional assistance may be needed.
  • Sarah Saunders is also being recognized with the Special Projects Award for her work in organizing the recognition and activities of the Telecommunicators during the weeklong celebration in 2013.
From left to right (standing) Shawna Ashlock, Katie Johnson, Sarah Saunders, Montesano Police Chief Brett Vance, and Katie Woods
From left to right (standing) Shawna Ashlock, Katie Johnson, Sarah Saunders, Montesano Police Chief Brett Vance, and Katie Woods

Fouts said in a press release “In recognition of the public safety dispatcher’s critical role in the protection of life and property and the preservation of society and law, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed the week of April 13th through 19th as Public Safety Telecommunications Week.”
During the week long celebration, Grays Harbor E9-1-1 will take the opportunity to present the agency’s annual Telecommunicator Recognition Awards for exemplary job performance.

The Telecommunicator of the Year Awards were presented at the 9-1-1 Operating Board meeting on April 8th.

The E-911 center is accepting applications for operators until April 18th – Job description and application available from Work Source Grays Harbor in Aberdeen.

Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. It was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office in 1981 and was observed only at that agency for three years. Members of the Virginia and North Carolina chapters of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) became involved in the mid-1980s. By the early 1990s, the national APCO organization convinced Congress of the need for a formal proclamation. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced what became H.J. Res. 284 to create “National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.” According to Congressional procedure, it was introduced twice more in 1993 and 1994, and then became permanent, without the need for yearly introduction.

The 911 CARES project has a wide range of NTW logo products that are great for gifts—or just for yourself! And the project gives back to the dispatching community, so they’re worth of support. APCO has a special blog to share NTW celebrations and honors.

The official name of the week when originally introduced in Congress in 1991 was “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.” In the intervening years, it has become known by several other names, including “National Public-Safety Telecommunications Week” and “International Public Safety Telecommunicator’s Week.” The Congressional resolution also stated there were more than “500,000 telecommunications specialists,” although other estimates put the number of dispatchers at just over 200,000. The Congressional figure may include support personnel and perhaps even those in the commercial sector of public safety communications.

Of course, you don’t need NTW to honor your public safety dispatchers for excellence! You can write them a commendation, mention their “good job” at a shift briefing, or just give them a pat on the back.

DISPATCH Magazine On-Line has prepared some materials about NTW that you will find useful as your agency considers how to recognize the dispatchers that have worked so hard during the past year. We’ve included a link to the Congressional Record for the 102nd Session of Congress that searches and displays official documents about National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week from its origin in 1991.