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Please thank your 9-1-1 dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week
By Police Chief Wes Kufeld
Have you ever wondered who answers that 9-1-1 call in the middle of the night, or helps you with any non-emergency concerns you might have? Those people are your friends, neighbors and fellow residents. Your Emergency Communications Center dispatchers are well-trained professionals dedicated to getting you the emergency help when you need it. They send law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel to your aid at all hours of the day and night, 365 days a year.
For a century, the Town of Estes Park has operated a dispatch center to answer all emergency and non-emergency calls in the Estes Valley. This operation began with a simple red light on a pole that lit up to alert officers to a call for service. Records were kept using a notepad and pencil, and a typewriter was used to create official documents. The dispatch center was in the old Police Department building in Bond Park, which later became the public library and has since been removed. Then operations moved to the old school building, which is today’s Town Hall. In my early days working here, I remember dispatchers using a siren on top of the building for fire calls. I’m sure visitors worried a tornado was coming through town, but it was our way of notifying the Fire Department. I remember sitting in so one of our dispatchers could take a break and hoping the phone didn’t ring. For me, it was much more difficult to field a 9-1-1 call than to respond to the scene as a police officer. I remember the days when female dispatchers were tasked with searching female prisoners during the booking process. It is hard to believe all the things they were asked to do, but they always responded without hesitation. They were great public servants then and they are the same caliber of people today.
Today, the Estes Park Police Department maintains the Emergency Communications Center, one of five dispatch centers within Larimer County, with state-of-the-art technology. 9-1-1 technology has increased substantially to include the ability to text 9-1-1. The officers have instant communication with dispatch through Mobile Data Terminals in their cars. In seconds, maps, photos, personal information, officer safety information and other confidential data can be sent directly to officers in the field from all over the nation.
The Estes Park Emergency Communications Center Dispatchers undergo consistent training in order to stay tuned to current technology and follow new communication trends. They take pride in their jobs and take on a personal responsibility to be helpful to you or whoever may call for help. They ride with officers on occasion to stay current and familiar with odd locations around town. They have an amazing amount of technology at their fingertips and a wealth of information to help with successful outcomes in the field.
We are incredibly proud of our Emergency Services Dispatchers and the service they provide citizens of the Estes Valley and its visitors. They are the backbone of ensuring help gets to you in a timely manner. Please help me in saying “thank you” to our dispatchers during National Public Safety Communicators Week, April 8-14. We couldn’t do it without them.