During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recognizes and says thank you to the professional and compassionate team of public-safety dispatchers at the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center.

These dedicated professionals work around the clock to ensure people get the help and resources they need as quickly as possible. They are a life line not only to the citizens who are calling for help, but also to the first responders who rely on them for accurate and detailed information.

Most people will only have the need to call 911 once in their lifetime, but it may be the most important call they ever make.

County dispatchers are the calm voice on the other end of the line who provide lifesaving advice and instruction to callers in times of crisis. They are the first and most critical contact our citizens have with emergency services.

They provide a vital link for our Sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, custody deputies, probation officers, and more. Dispatchers monitor their activities by radio and provide them with necessary information in a timely manner to ensure their safety.

Santa Barbara County’s consolidated dispatch center is in keeping with national best-practice standards outlined in the 9/11 Commission Report issued following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The ability of each of the disciplines to communicate directly with each other, without lost time spent in transferring and interpreting information is a lifesaving aspect of this program.

The public is safer and lives are saved due to the teamwork between the public safety disciplines: Sheriff, Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

The Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center has 31 dispatchers including supervisors. In 2016, Santa Barbara County dispatched 156,814 law-enforcement calls for service, 22,241 fire incidents and 56,088 AMR medical incidents for an average of 645 calls each day.

Dispatchers answered 300,000 telephone calls in 2016 for an average of 822 per day. Additionally, 10 Santa Barbara County dispatchers received life-saving awards from the Emergency Medical Services Agency for CPR saves.

These recognized dispatchers had direct involvement in the chain of survival for cardiac arrest patients. One dispatcher also received a stork pin for baby delivery care over the phone.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown expressed his gratitude to the men and women who make up the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center:

“I am proud of our public safety dispatch professionals who fill a crucial role in keeping our community safe,” he said. “They are highly trained, compassionate, dedicated and calm in the face of chaos. Dispatchers make a huge difference each and every day.”

The process of becoming a dispatcher is a challenging one. Dispatchers undergo a rigorous testing and background process followed by months of intense training and then a period of on-the-job training before they work independently.

The Sheriff’s Office welcomed a new dispatcher this week and is looking for more great candidates. To learn more, visit www.sbsheriff.org.

— Kelly Hoover for Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.