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Carbon commissioners recognize dispatchers

When you think of emergencies, you think about who is going to come and help you.

The first responders are important, but without the people behind the scenes dispatching first responders, you may never get the help you need in that moment.

On Thursday, the Carbon County Commissioners recognized the dispatchers at the 911 Communications Center by signing a proclamation naming April 10-16 National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Carbon County.

The proclamation states that “each day, more than a half million public safety telecommunicators answer desperate calls for help, responding with services that saves the lives and property of citizens in need of assistance.”

To speak to that, Joshua Jacobs, a senior dispatcher in Carbon County, said that the job is “rigorous.”

“You have to pay very close attention to detail,” he said. “People are calling at the worst time in their life.”

He noted that dispatchers handle a variety of emergency calls - from fires and crashes to overdoses, lost hikers and more - and those taking the calls need to be trained to handle any situation that comes up.

Carbon County currently has 11 full-time dispatchers, as well as three part-time 911 operators working round-the-clock to make sure someone is answering the phone when disaster strikes.

Part-time positions for dispatching are also available on the Carbon County website.

“People really recognize the police or firefighters are there (at the emergency), but they don’t really think of those who are taking their call and sending the help,” Jacobs said. “It is nice to get appreciation once a year.”

Jacobs, who is coming up on eight years as a dispatcher, said his desire to work in this position is due to his upbringing.

He has been a volunteer firefighter for 13 years so dispatching seemed to be the best fit for him.

Last year, Carbon County’s dispatchers handled 69,562 calls for police, fire or EMS; and a total of 144,010 calls overall.

Commissioners’ Chairman Wayne Nothstein commended the dispatchers and noted that “there’s a lot more to it than people think. You just don’t pick up the telephone and take a little bit of information.”

He said that sometimes there may be two dispatchers working on the same call. One taking the information from the callers, while another one dispatches the correct emergency units to the scene.

Nothstein stressed the importance of being having patience even in an emergency because giving as much detail as the dispatcher asks will allow emergency responders to know what type of situation they are dealing with and how to best prepare before they respond.

Carbon County Commissioners Rocky Ahner, left; and Wayne Nothstein, right; present Joshua Jacobs, senior dispatcher, with the proclamation naming April 10-16 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Carbon County. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS