County of San Mateo Celebrates Its Public Safety Dispatchers
The County of San Mateo is currently celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, joining the annual recognition of the men and women who on any given day juggle multiple life-saving demands to aid residents in need of immediate assistance from law, fire and medical first responders.
National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, celebrated every second week of April, is an opportunity to show appreciation for the dedicated group whose skillful navigation through high-pressure calls save lives. When someone calls, dispatchers make sure there’s an answer. This year, the week is April 8-14 and will be recognized by the Board of Supervisors with a proclamation at its April 10, 2018, meeting.
“Dispatcher Appreciation Week is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the incredible job our dispatchers do 24 hours a day answering hundreds of thousands of calls annually. They are on the front lines of all 9-1-1 emergencies and other requests for assistance and do an amazing job of dispatching and coordinating police officers, firefighters, ambulances and other resources in the field to mitigate emergencies and other problems. Our dispatchers are true professionals who start the process of bringing chaos under control,” said Daniel T. Belville, director of the San Mateo County Public Safety Dispatch Center (PSC).
The County’s 63 dispatchers and calltakers and 11 administrative staff, like their counterparts nationwide, serve as the essential “thin gold line” because they are the first critical step in the chain of events that start a response to a call for service. The County’s level of training and experience has consistently earned it global recognition. In June 2005, PSC became the ninth emergency communications center in California and only the 97th in the world named as an Accredited Dispatch Center of Excellence (ACE). Accreditation requires marking 20 points which require laborious self-study, program analysis and more than 1,500 hours of comprehensive auditing of dispatcher telephone calls to meet internationally accepted standards in the field. PSC recently learned it again completed all 20 steps required, making this the fifth time it achieved such status.
County dispatchers work in two 12-hour shifts at the Dispatch Center, currently located in the Hall of Justice basement but slated for relocation in 2019 to the Regional Operations Center currently under construction. The dispatchers provide countywide dispatch services for emergency medical and fire services. PSC provides police dispatch services for the cities of East Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay, Woodside, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Millbrae, Broadmoor Village and Daly City. PSC also dispatches for the Sheriff’s Office, serving the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, the transit police and various County departments including the District Attorney, Coroner, Parks and Public Works. Additionally, PSC coordinates fire, medical and law mutual aid for the County.
County dispatchers go through approximately 1,000 hours of training before working on their own and maintain 24 hours of continued professional training every two years.
In 2017, County dispatchers handled 389,106 emergency 9-1-1 and non-emergency telephone calls for law, fire and emergency medical services. The incidents break down as 63,991 ambulance calls, 77, 182 fire calls and 247,933 law calls.
Among those serving those calls is Preston “Iggy” Lindsey, who his peers chose as the 2018 Dispatcher of the Year.
Lindsey was hired in March 2016 as a communications dispatcher/call taker and a year later promoted to Communications Dispatcher II. Lindsey’s nomination noted that during his tenure he stepped up to assist with training for law radio, individualized on-the-job training for several call takers and taught in the dispatcher academy. Perhaps most importantly, Lindsey has a good attitude and is a solid resource for all his coworkers.
“I’m so excited and humbled to even have been nominated, let alone selected as the Dispatcher of the Year. My co-workers and fellow nominees are top notch, and I’m proud to be part of our great team,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey will be honored Thursday, April 12, 2018, at an appreciation luncheon held at Oracle by the San Mateo County Communications Managers Association.
PSC is currently recruiting for dedicated individuals to join its team. More information about the requirements and application process is available here: http://jobs.smcgov.org/911-communications-calltaker/job/7605439
Throughout the week, the County of San Mateo will honor its dispatchers on its social media channels with important 9-1-1 tips, photos, stories and video, offering an inside peek at the dispatch center at work.