Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women, who serve as public safety telecommunications.
“We get to help people,” said NSPO Telecommunicator Monique Guidry. Angela Crowe said the job keeps you on your toes. The job is a lot of the same, but it’s always different. While they work 12 hour shifts (a month of days then a month of nights) at the same desks, they never know what the calls will entail as the situation is always unique.
NPSO telecommunicators include Candie White, Patricia Dearborne, Angela Crowe, Tonya Reliford, Paige Martin, Kimberly Green, Lorena Ramos, Monique Guidry and Chief LaQuita Collins. NPD telecommunicators include Sybil Holland, Regine Sylvie, Nubia Charleston, Sabrina Williams, Diquan Johnson, Quantavia McCray, Terri Masson, Juankeitha Jones and Supervisor Brenda Henderson.
These first, first responders perform a full range of radio and telephone operational duties in the 24/7 911 facilities at the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Natchitoches Police Department. They process and prioritize calls for police, fire and EMS assistance.
“The emergency call takers and dispatchers who serve Natchitoches Parish have always been the voice on the end of the line when our citizens call 911 for help,” said Willis Carter, 911 Director for Natchitoches Parish.
Carter said the two public safety-answering points for Natchitoches Parish answer an average of 25,000 calls per year, just in 911 calls. Some job requirements include a level head in stressful situations, an ability to multitask and split ear hearing and a keen eye to distinguish between priorities when it comes to the calls they receive.
“This is one of the most difficult professions you can have,” said Carter. “These dedicated professionals toil night and day, sometimes with little recognition, but work for the satisfaction gained by serving their community. It’s a calling.”
The first 911 call in the U.S., made some 49 years ago in Haleyville, Ala., marked the beginning of a new era in public safety. In recognition and to honor these mostly unknown and sometimes underappreciated public servants, in the early 1990s, the national Association of Public Safety Communications Officers (APCO) asked Congress, through a formal proclamation, introduced by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), to create a “National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.” That original proclamation followed the process of Congressional procedure, and in 1994 became a permanent day of recognition each consecutive year.
On behalf of the Natchitoches Parish Communications District Board of Commissioners, Chairman Micky Dove offers a sincere “thank you” and publicly recognizes the important role public safety telecommunicators play in keeping Natchitoches Parish safe.
“Telecommunicators are the calming voice in your time of need,” said Chief LaQuita Collins. “They’re someone to listen and someone to send help. They work behind the scenes to keep citizens safe.”