A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel
911; WHAT IS YOUR EMERGENCY?
"911; what is your emergency?"
These are words you never want to hear, but for our E-911 call takers, they are all too familiar. BSO’s call takers and dispatchers are the first of the first responders, responsible not only for receiving incoming emergency calls, but also for assessing the importance of an emergency and dispatching the appropriate resources and personnel to an incident.
In 2015, we handled 2.5 million calls from our community through our three regional E-911 centers. That is almost 7,000 calls that we receive each and every day. During each call, the men and women behind the calm voices on the other end of the phone line are tasked with getting as much pertinent information from the caller as possible while directing emergency services to a scene that could be dangerous for everyone involved. The call taker is quickly trying to figure out the who, what, when, where and why of a situation. They know that the more information our law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency personnel have when they arrive on the scene, the quicker they can assess a situation and take appropriate action.
All medical calls are dictated by specific National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch protocols. Every one of our almost 500 call takers is also specially trained to relay these important medical instructions in the critical time when emergency services are on their way. This training is necessary to talk callers through any conceivable emergency including those requiring CPR, helping the caller recognize the strength and severity of a stroke or seizure and sometimes even relaying labor and delivery instructions for births. Although these are extraordinary events in a person’s life, they are daily occurrences that our operators handle.
Our call takers know that seconds can make the difference between life and death.
When I became sheriff, I mandated that our operators receive a specialized Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) course. CIT training was developed to provide a more intelligent, more effective and safer approach to mental health crises. This training gives our operators the tools they need to determine if a call involves a mental health concern and the steps they can take to help defuse the situation. The operator can also determine if one of our many CIT-trained deputies needs to be dispatched to help assist in a more careful, understanding manner.
Our mission at BSO is to provide the best possible communications services not only to the deputies, firefighters and paramedics we serve, but also to the residents and visitors who may need us at any hour.
Too often, the efforts of emergency call takers and dispatchers are taken for granted, but in many instances, they are the unseen heroes of our agency. In April we honor public safety telecommunicators, and I wanted to highlight these professional and dedicated men and women. They work tirelessly as the critical link between our community and emergency services.
Sheriff Scott Israel
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