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County honors emergency personnel

April 10 through 16 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Carbon County.

On Thursday, the county commissioners adopted a proclamation announcing that next week will honor the men and women who take 911 emergency calls and dispatch police, fire or emergency medical services personnel.The week was instituted in 1991 by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International to recognize public safety telecommunicators who aid in providing 911 emergency assistance."Emergencies can occur at any time, requiring police, fire or emergency medical services personnel to be dispatched to the scene," the proclamation states. "Carbon County emergency dispatchers are the first and most critical contact our citizens and visitors have with the emergency services."Dispatchers must be compassionate, professional, have a strong understanding with regard to various emergency responses and have the ability to keep callers calm in the face of danger.At the Carbon County 911 Communications Center, 11 full-time and seven part-time dispatchers and two trainees handle the approximately 150,000 calls that come through the center annually.Justin Markell, a senior dispatcher and a Lehighton volunteer firefighter, thanked the commissioners for recognizing him and his colleagues."Working in 911, you don't normally get a lot of recognition," he said. "But that's part of the job."Gary Williams, director of communications center, reminded residents and visitors of Carbon County that the men and women who man the 911 phones around the clock are all professionals in their field.Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard commended Markell, the dispatchers and Williams for the job they do."You have to gather very important information and keep calm and keep the person on the other end of that line calm," he said. "You all do a great job."

Carbon County commissioners issued a proclamation naming the week of April 10 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in the county. From left, Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard; Justin Markell, senior dispatcher; Gary Williams, director of the Carbon County Communications Center; and Commissioner William O'Gurek. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS