Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson and State Patrol Chief John Batiste took time to honor telecommunicators who work in their agencies all last week.

Telecommunicators are those who answer emergency phone lines and work radios in the two agencies. At WSP, they answer calls to 911 and dispatch troopers to where they’re needed. They also dispatch backup when troopers themselves need help.

“Our telecommunicators are our lifelines,” Batiste said. “Many times I’ve been on a lonely road with a sketchy individual, and my only source of assistance was that calm voice on the other end of the radio. I will always be grateful to those dispatchers who got me help when I needed it.”

At WSDOT, staff located in six Traffic Management Centers (TMC) across the state work closely with WSP telecommunicators while operating the department’s electronic communications systems. TMC staff monitors roadway traffic conditions and operate freeway traffic control systems in response to conditions. They also provide critical maintenance, construction and emergency incident information to the patrol, the media and the public.

Telecommunicators at WSDOT and WSP work with WSDOT’s Incident Reponses program to respond to about 40,000 incidents a year.

“We work hand-in-hand with Washington State Patrol to keep people safe on the highways,” said Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson. “Our agencies’ dispatch operators are critical to getting the right people and equipment to incidents and emergencies quickly and efficiently, when every moment counts. They are our unsung heroes.”

Every year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as Public Safety Telecommunicators. Communities across the nation are currently recognizing those first responders / telecommunicators who help save lives in times of personal, local, or national crisis.

On April 2, Governor Jay Inslee issued a Proclamation which proclaimed April 13-19, 2014, as Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in the state of Washington, and urged all people in our state to join him in recognizing the important contributions of this dedicated group.

NPSTW provides an opportunity to recognize public safety telecommunicators across the state of Washington as well as the nation by honoring those who work hard every day to protect our communities by performing mission critical tasks behind the scenes to support police, fire and emergency medical personnel. 

APCO International has established an NPSTW blog where agencies can share celebration ideas, along with photos of this year’s festivities. Citizens can share thoughts of gratitude and personal stories.