April 12-18 marks National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, or National Dispatchers Week for short, a time to thank the local, state and national telecommunications workers who dispatch our law enforcement, fire, EMS and E-911 service personnel.
Terry McClannahan, communications director in the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office since 2008, said dispatchers are out of the public eye but still a crucial element in public safety.
McClannahan said the communications unit in the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office currently has 13 full- or part-time employees, with two new dispatchers beginning in July with the start of the new fiscal year. It takes about six months to fully train a new dispatcher, he said,with an additional six months in medical EMS communications.
The rapid growth of the population in Dallas County has also meant an increase in the number of calls to the sheriff’s communications unit, he said. The annual call volume was 61,000 in 2013, McLannahan said, rising to 88,000 in 2014, a 28 percent increase.
The 2015 volume is already 14 percent higher than last year’s, he said, and the trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
The same population pressures have county offices bursting at the seams and desperate for more room, according to county officials. In the last 18 months, Dallas County voters twice refused to approve financing for new public safety and administrative facilities. A third bond referendum is planned for August.