Honouring our RCMP 9-1-1 Police Dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

B.C., 911 Police Dispatch, This Is Who We Are

2021-04-11 10:00 PDT

The typical scene in the movies is of someone screaming or crying when they call 9-1-1. But ask any 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher and they will tell you it is far different from that.

Christina summiting Mt Albert Edward and Christina at Foster Lake

When Christina Horns joined the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre in Courtenay, she expected that the job would primarily be about helping people, and speaking in broad strokes, it is. However, it’s far more complex than that. She quickly had her eyes opened to what really goes on behind the scenes.
You see something posted on social media or the news, says Christina. But you don’t realize how much more there is to the story; so much more than the public ever hears about.

During this National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, April 11-17, we want to celebrate the brave women and men who are the first people the public turns to in an emergent situation.

No matter what time it is or where we are, our 9-1-1 Police Dispatchers are always there, watching over us, keeping us safe, says Deputy Commissioner, Jennifer Strachan, Commanding Officer, BC RCMP. They may be behind the scenes but they are every bit as vital to policing as the officers who are attending the scene.

Our 9-1-1 RCMP Police Dispatchers are unique in the country answering more calls for help than any other RCMP division in Canada. With nearly 300 dispatchers at four 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centres across the province, they answered 93,180 non-emergency calls and 24,356 9-1-1 calls for police during the month January 2021. By the end of the year, dispatchers will answer more than 1 million non-emergency calls and 300 thousand 9-1-1 calls.

A 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher must gather pertinent information to assess the appropriate and timely emergency response to ensure public and police safety. However, the duties performed by a dispatcher are far more complex than just relaying information. Dispatchers usually speak to people who may be under great distress, frightened or injured. They must call upon their extensive training and experience to make split-second decisions to respond to the caller’s needs.

A dispatcher could be on a non-emergency call and talking to someone about their car that has been vandalized. The next 9-1-1 call could be about an intense emergency with multiple people affected. At that point, dispatchers jump into action and dispatch the police to the scene, all the while calmly speaking to the person on the 9-1-1 call, asking them to stay on the call until the police arrive.

I thrive in that environment, says Christina. I absolutely love it when we are really busy. With multiple concurrent calls, dispatching police, listening to the radio.

We consider our 9-1-1 Police Dispatchers to be the first of the first responders. They are the lifeline between the public and the police. These professionals must be able to take control of situations that may be chaotic, heart wrenching, stressful, confusing, or frenzied. Concurrently, they will be on the radio taking with police officers racing to the scene or asking for assistance.

A 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher is the bridge between the public and the police, says Superintendent Lorna Dicks, the new Officer in Charge of the BC RCMP 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre Program. I am honored to be working with these professional men and women who gather essential information from callers and then dispatch that information to our police officers. Congratulations to our unsung heroes during Telecommunicators Week and every day of the year!

It’s the shear variety of calls that makes being a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher so exhilarating. It’s one of the reasons Christina loves being a dispatcher. The other is the people she works with. They are like a family. The shiftwork of four days on and four days off only enhances that familiarity.

The best part of shift work is the long stretch of days off. You get an opportunity to treat every weekend like a long weekend, says Christina.

To learn more about being a dispatcher, read Christina’s profile  or visit www.bcrcmp911.ca.

 

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