Sedona AZ (April 14, 2013) – Sedona Police and Fire Communication Centers are celebrating the week of April 14 – 20, 2013 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. This week, sponsored by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and celebrated annually, honors the thousands of men and women who answer emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment, and render life-saving assistance to the world’s citizens.
“The words “911 – Where is your emergency?” starts the process that defines the nature of an emergency which in turn sets the emergency response in motion. These Telecommunication professionals are the critical link not only for the caller but also for the firefighters and police officers in the field”, stated Fire Marshal/Public Information Officer, Gary Johnson. “Their role is critical to the outcome of the call.”
The Sedona Regional Communications Center (SRCC) dispatches for 11 fire and medical agencies that serve a population of 75,000 residents over 1900 square miles. This includes 95 miles of I-17 from Black Canyon City to just north of Pinewood. SRCC serves the Black Canyon, Camp Verde, Mayer, Montezuma/Rimrock, Pinewood, Sedona and Verde Valley Fire Districts; the cities of Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Jerome Fire Departments, as well as Verde Valley Ambulance.
The original SFD dispatch center was located in the basement of the old Coconino County building in uptown Sedona off Forest Road. Up until 1985 the operation was the responsibility of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. In 1985, the 9-1-1 center became a fire district operation. Today the center is located above Sedona Fire District Fire station #4 with a state of the art Computer Aided Dispatch system. Working 12 hour shifts, rotating from days to nights every three months, these trained professionals answer about 7,900 calls a month of which approximately 2,600 calls are 9-1-1. Last year the SRCC received approximately 95,000 phone calls of which over 31,000 were 9-1-1 calls. Roughly, 10% of 9-1-1 calls are hang ups. Each 9-1-1 hang up call requires a phone call back to the calling phone and may result in additional phone calls to coordinate a law enforcement response.
Sedona Police Chief Raymond Cota states that public safety dispatchers are not normally the first personnel that are thought of in public safety services but are a vital component in any police or fire agency. “Our communication specialists are the unseen first responders whose work is invaluable and critical to the successful handling of any emergency situation. Additionally, these men and women help countless people who may not have an emergency situation but are just trying to get an answer to a troubling circumstance. This week provides an opportunity for our departments and the community to show their appreciation for the difficult job that our communication specialists perform daily and the quality service they provide to everyone.”
The City of Sedona Police Department Communications Center operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Currently there are 6 dispatchers who work rotating schedules to ensure that center is operational at all times. During busy times, the schedule allows for two people working in tandem, but often only one person is working answering emergency and routine phone calls, dispatching officers to calls for service, and managing radio communications amongst police personnel in the field. Using a state criminal justice computer system, dispatchers enter and process misdemeanor warrants, check the status of licenses for both vehicles and people, and monitor a communication system that links the entire country.
The communications center is the place people call when the storms hit, the creek floods, or other natural disasters happen. They are sometimes called upon to answer questions about problems and issues that didn’t even occur in the City of Sedona, most commonly, road and weather conditions further north. Answers are always given when they are known, or the caller is directed to the appropriate agency. The dispatcher is the secure voice to a caller who feels they are in danger or has just experienced a life altering event. They are part of the safety net provided to the police officers of Sedona, always ready to send help when needed, or provide critical information that could affect the officers well being.
The Communications Specialists of the Sedona Police Department and Sedona Fire District are an important and vital part of your community, and maintain that role with professionalism, integrity, and respect. You can help us help you when calling in an emergency by following these simple tips:
- Be prepared to answer the question, “Where is your emergency?”.
- Stay on the line until you are directed to hang up.
- If possible, when at home use your home phone, not your wireless phone. 9-1-1 calls on wired lines provide caller name, phone number and address as well as other information that is useful for processing the 9-1-1 call.
- The use of cell phones accounts for two out of every three 9-1-1 calls. When using your wireless phone, know where you are. 9-1-1 calls on wireless phones provide only the phone number. In many cases, depending on type of phone, the carrier, and the signal strength, the location of the caller may plot on a map, but we may not be able to obtain an accurate address.
- If you call 9-1-1 by mistake please stay on the line. This allows the communications specialist to verify the call was in fact placed in error.