ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Before Albany Police Officers respond to an emergency, they are briefed and guided by the dispatchers, often referred to as the “unsung heroes” of first responders. This National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, law enforcement officials and leaders at the 911 center are thanking those who pick up the phone when the community calls for help.
“We truly are the ‘first’ first responders. So many people, sometimes the first and only contact they have with anybody in public safety, is a dispatcher,” said Jeremie Meyer, Director of Emergency Services Communications in the City of Albany.
Recent major emergencies, like the massive fire at the old Doane Stuart School, the Grand Street fire that devastated four buildings, and the lockdown at Albany Medical Center, further highlight the responsibility and crisis management done in their office.
“When we have these mental health calls, or these high priority calls, our dispatchers are feeling the same stress that police and firefighters are having,” said Albany Police Department Chief Eric Hawkins, “so it’s important that we give them the support we give any other first responders.”
The telecommunicators in Albany are receiving citations for their recent work on those major emergencies, along with recognition from lawmakers.
One of the workers being recognized this week is Alexandra Storm, who has been taking 9-1-1 calls for about a year and a half while getting her Masters in Criminal Investigations.
“I’ve always had an interest in working in this field, and I thought this was a great start for me to get a foot in the door and start working and understanding what actually goes on in criminal justice,” Storm said, “and I’ve learned a lot about policing in this job, because you learn a lot about where you’re sending them, and what goes on.”
“I find the best police officers and firefighters out there are ones who spent time as a dispatcher,” Meyer added, “because they know what we’re doing and what’s going on behind the curtain.”