Celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WLUC) - This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. All week long, we have a chance to celebrate the unsung heroes, 911 dispatchers.

If you've ever dialed 911 anywhere in Houghton, Baraga, Keweenaw, Ontonagon, Schoolcraft Counties, you’ve talked to someone at the Michigan State Police Negaunee Regional Communications Center.

Communications Supervisor, Kory Dykstra has nearly 30 years’ experience here.

"I started here on December 6th in 1992. I've been in this job a long time. I don't know a group of people that do this better than the people that do it right here at Negaunee Regional," Dykstra insisted.

Back when he first started, his job was that of a radio operator. Now, thanks to advancements in internet and smart phone capabilities, Dykstra has seen a dramatic shift in technology.

"And now we are Public Service Telecommunicators. But it’s all essentially the same job. It’s one person on one end of the phone trying to get help to one person on the other end of the phone," Dykstra reasoned.

These days, dispatchers are the ultimate multi-taskers. Each dispatcher monitors and interacts with eight different screens at once while also coordinating with multiple police, EMS and fire departments in the field, all while holding a conversion with the caller.

"To those of us that started way back when, it's like Star Trek. Now police have vehicle locators in their cars so you can track them in real time on a map," Dykstra asserted.

NRCC Dispatcher, Joshua Timm says that while they’re helping you, keeping their fellow first responders safe is also a top priority.

"Making sure everyone goes home at night is our chief goal here as well as helping the public. It can be stressful and tense but everyone's training kicks in and we get everyone home,” Timm announced.

So whether you're having the worst day of your life or you just need a little help and you don't know who to call, these people are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day, even holidays.

"At one point we had a father who had been recently divorced that called because he had his kids for Thanksgiving and he had no idea how to cook a turkey. And we're able to help him with that. I mean i can cook a turkey," Dykstra recalled.

So thanks to these men and women for the job you do, every day.

These are the first first responders. When you call 911, you're talking to somebody that is going to sort out what your problem is and get you help" Dykstra declared.

"I guess at the end of the day we kind of look at it like that's what we're here for and we try to do our job just like everyone else," Timm concluded.