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A Message from APCO President John Wright

posted Apr 16, 2015, 2:03 PM by Grayson Gusa   [ updated Apr 16, 2015, 2:05 PM ]
This week is once again our National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a week set aside specifically to formally recognize the hard work and dedication of our nation’s Public Safety Telecommunicators. With over 6,000 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in the United States, these Public Safety professionals dedicate their lives to helping others.

We have come a long way from where we started back in 1994 when then-President Clinton signed the official bill that permanently set aside the second full week in April to recognize the men and women in this great profession. Starting as a grass roots local event in 1981 by Patricia Anderson working for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California, the idea of celebrating our work caught on with several other agencies over the next few years. In 1991 several members of APCO International decided to work together to lobby Congress for “official” recognition on a truly national level. There tireless efforts were finally accomplished when Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced H.J. Resolution 284 that created the week of recognition. While this first proclamation was only for one year in 1992, our members continued to lobby for a more permanent recognition. Their efforts paid off as this same bill was introduced and passed again in 1993 and 1994 when the recognition became permanent.

Every year throughout our nation, PSAPs large and small find ways to celebrate the hard work of our first of the first responders. Some have pot-luck dinners or ice cream socials, while others cumulate the week with formal annual awards banquets that recognize the top professionals in our local and regional communications centers. However you celebrate, there cannot be words said enough to thank those who work in this profession.

I believe that it is now time that those who work in our 9-1-1 Communications Centers are properly recognized as Public Safety professionals. This year, APCO International has started the process with the Department of Labor to change the designation of our 9-1-1 professionals from a “Clerical” position to the official title of Public Safety Telecommunicator and have it placed under “Protective Services”, the same designation as Police Officers and Firefighters. It is time that the nation recognizes this job as a true Public Safety profession, and as one of the first responder community. This process will take a couple of years to finalize, due to the Department of Labor’s schedule for publishing the updated job listings, but we have started the process and will continue to press for the official change.

During this week of celebration, I would personally like thank the men and women who work in our nation’s 9-1-1 PSAPs. Thank you for having to take winter vacations, missing birthdays, holidays, and family events. Thank you for the long hours, working many times in critically under staffed centers, and for your unwavering dedication to protect and serve. Thank you to your families that support you every day throughout the year and for their personal sacrifices so that you may help others in need. Thank you for the lives you have saved, the lives you have positively impacted, and for the lives you will save as a result of choosing this noble profession.

Happy National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week everyone.

John W. Wright, President
APCO International