A league of your own: Professional telecommunicators for 911!
By Mary Boyd
I’m anxious to learn the name of this year’s recipient of NENA’s William E. Stanton Award. Through the years, I’ve been encouraged and inspired by NENA’s innovative work in fulfilling its mission to foster the technological advancement, availability, and implementation of 911 and have benefited personally from their training opportunities, infrastructure and guidance.
I’ve also been inspired by thousands of professional 911 telecommunicators—those who have said, “I’ll take a seat at the desk, under the headset, behind the scenes to help save lives,” dedicating their lives and careers to the task of being there whenever needed. The public can see and naturally recognize the faces of first responders—firefighters, police officers, paramedics, etc. They are very rarely aware of the heroes on the other end of the line.
You are the heroes—the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and grandparents who decided that your calling in life was to answer emergency calls and ensure that panicked 911 callers get the help they need—the members of our country’s 911 crisis-response teams.
Your days are never dull. And they’re never stress free. You hear from irritated citizens when a driveway is blocked; you take a call from someone home alone at night and can hear the sound of breaking glass in the background. You are the reassuring voice, the calm hand, and the swift multi-tasker who can juggle the pleas of a frantic caller while guiding responders en route to the scene. You are the hero, and you inspire me!
You’re the one that stays awake when you should be sleeping, wondering if questions asked just a bit differently would have changed a tragic outcome. You’re the one that reassures a scared home-alone child that help is on the way. You’re the one who can magically deliver a “snake man” to remove a pesky visitor.
You may be the one that contacts the child of an elderly parent to let them know “things are a little out of sorts.” You know when your “frequent callers” aren’t calling and need to know why. You live on fast food and stress and always get by somehow. You are there when others are going home at the end of their workday.
You are my hero! I know you will be there should an emergency cross my path.
Thank you for choosing to help. Thank you for dedicating your life for the well being of our citizens.
Thank you for inspiring me!
Mary A. Boyd, ENP, is vice president of external affairs at Intrado. She is the recipient of the 2014 William E. Stanton Award.