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National Dispatchers Week honors the first line of crisis defense

1 year 3 months 4 days ago Thursday, April 13 2023 Apr 13, 2023 April 13, 2023 10:47 AM April 13, 2023 in 2une In
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - You normally don't see them in an emergency situation, but they're some of the most important people you deal with during a crisis.

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, honoring our first responders who dedicate their lives to serving the public. It's observed every year during the second week of April.

Brad Harris with East Baton Rouge Parish emergency services says it's not just 911 dispatchers; it's police, sheriff's department, fire, and paramedic personnel that are recognized.

"We like to showcase our employees and spotlight what they do and the sacrifice that they take for our community," Harris said. "They answer over 1,000 calls a day. They're one of the links in our survival chain, the first ones that you talk to whenever you have an emergency."

This week is also used to remind people about the appropriate time to call 911.

"The most important thing to know is your address, your location, and your phone number," Harris said. "You need to tell them exactly what's going on and what kind of emergency you're having that way they can give you the correct response."

"We take calls from anything, whether it be car wrecks, medical calls, heart attacks, anything that's happening like burglaries in progress, those are all emergencies. If you have a non-emergency, there are phone numbers you can call, like the police and sheriff's departments."

With a heavy workload and answering calls that could be chaotic or emotional, it can take a toll on these first responders. The city provides an emotional support dog named Indie and counseling anytime workers need support.

"She helps people decompress," said Communications Supervisor with EBR EMS Jeremy Torres. "We always deal with folks at their worst times in life or are exposed to several different tragedies in 12 hours that most people aren't exposed to in a lifetime."

"Sometimes it does weigh on you. Part of our decompression lies here with Indie. She's trained as a service animal. She is also trained to recognize when someone is having difficulties. She's our most precious asset."

EBR EMS is also going through shortages. If you're interested in becoming a part of the EMS team, you can apply here.

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