April 14th-20th is National Public Safety Communicators Week and what better time to recognize our California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members who are CAL FIRE communications operators?
These men and women answer 911 emergency calls for help as do our CSLEA members who are CHP public safety dispatchers.
Our CAL FIRE communications operators are on the receiving end of cries for help involving wildland fires, vehicle accidents, hazmat, medical emergencies, as well as law enforcement, about 350,000 incidents a year.
"Behind every one of those calls, a CAL FIRE ComOp is usually involved in the support and initial dispatch," said Daren Watkins, vice president of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Services Association (FMESA) and CAL FIRE communications operator. "Our job may be thankless, difficult, stressful, tiring and conducive to consuming large amounts of caffeine in short time periods. This week is about recognizing the job that we do and the people that we are. I would like to say thank you to all of you for doing that job so well."
One of our many CAL FIRE communications operators is Elizabeth Smith. Smith started her career with the CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit as a communications operator in 2000. Prior to her job as a communications operator, Smith was a volunteer in prevention, which exposed her to the requirements of the job that she would ultimately enjoy the most: providing coordination and support to firefighting personnel while reassuring the public that help is on the way. Smith earned a bachelor's of science degree in business in 2010 and she and her husband, Drew, were blessed with their first daughter, Mia, last October.
"Our CSLEA members who answer 911 calls for help, and dispatch emergency crews, are skilled and highly trained, but they are also individuals with an amazing gift of coolness and calm that stays with them in the peak of extreme adrenaline and panic," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "We're proud of the jobs they do every day of the week, but this week, National Public Safety Communicators Week, we get to give them all a giant shout-out, a giant thank you."