Headset Heroes: Wright-Patt dispatchers answer the call 24/7 Published April 13, 2023 By Brian Dietrick 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Our Wright-Patterson Air Force Base dispatchers are the first line of response when someone calls 911 with an emergency. Critical to mission success, their responsibility is to relay vital information quickly and clearly in order to provide the right kind of assistance without delay. Often classified as office and administrative support, emergency dispatchers are the first contact during what could be the worst moment in a person’s life. Because of their highly important role, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is held annually during the second week of April to honor public safety telecommunicators for their commitment, service and sacrifice. “We have five medically-trained dispatchers and four others in medical training now. Two of them are on duty 24 hours a day,” said Cory Downey, 788th Civil Engineer Squadron communications supervisor. “Once a call comes in, the dispatcher has to relay critical information to our trucks and get them on the road in under a minute. It’s pretty impressive!” According to Downey, a dispatcher will answer 30 to 50 phone calls during a nine-hour shift. He said they roughly receive over 1,000 emergency calls each year that crews respond to in a timely manner. “It’s imperative that we relay as much correct information to our responding crews as possible,” said Downey. “They need to know what equipment they need to have with them in order to provide the best response to the patient. Telecommunicators are entrusted to save lives and remain calm, cool and compassionate amid a crisis. They often work eight, 10 or 12 hours a day all year long and forgo holidays and time spent with family and friends. They show up every day to serve the public in times of distress and navigate a myriad of scenarios every time they answer a call. “We help people on the worst day of their life,” said Beth Baker, a dispatcher with the 788th CES. “Helping people is a passion for me. Ever since I was a little kid, all I ever wanted to do is help people.” Wright-Patterson AFB joins local government, public safety agencies and advocacy groups during NPSTW in celebrating and thanking telecommunications personnel who serve our communities, citizens and public safety personnel 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “I used to be a first responder on the trucks, and I know how important a dispatcher’s role is to a successful response,” said Chad Campbell, 788th CES dispatcher. “We relay as much information to our crews as fast as we can, and that helps keep them safe and efficient, with the proper equipment, during a response. We’re all one big family. Safety is paramount so we can all go home at the end of the day.” NPSTW initially started in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California. In 1994, President William J. Clinton signed Presidential Proclamation 6667, declaring the second week of April as NPSTW.