Dispatchers star of 'National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week'

Published: Apr. 10, 2017 at 5:03 PM MDT
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Some behind-the-scenes workers are getting some front and center attention this week for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Being a dispatcher takes more than just a special kind of skill set -- it takes a certain type of personality.

Dispatcher Matt Ostendorf says, "Understanding from their perspective that what may not seem like a high-stress or high-priority situation to you as a dispatcher might be very life-detrimental to them."

Many dispatchers will tell you it takes patience, empathy, and a calm demeanor to deal with the pressure.

Ostendorf says, "No day is the same. You can come in one day and have nothing but routine calls. Things like civil matters, stolen vehicles, to the next day pursuits or drugs."

People at Pennington County 911 are just some of the dispatchers in the Black Hills community taking difficult, high-stress calls everyday.

Chad Tomjack says, "Some of the things we deal with can be kind of hard."

Even when tough things like the tragic Spearfish fire happen miles away, it can still take a toll on dispatchers here in Rapid City.

Tomjack says, "A very sad, emotional type of situation. But when something like that happens, even the people here in this center think about that."

Chad Tomjack has been a dispatcher in Pennington County for close to ten years now -- taking calls to help various agencies all across the area.

He says one of the key aspects of the job is being able to transition easily from one call to the next -- by not letting your previous call affect the other people on the line.

Tomjack says, "They have no idea that you just got off of a call with some kind of a tragedy."

And with a job like this -- being the 'first' first responders -- comes recognition nationwide with Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. And while these dispatchers appreciate it,

Tomjack says, "Dispatchers really aren't in it... they don't do this job for the recognition or anything like that."