IDAHO — In a crisis, the first thing you do is call 911. You get connected with a dispatcher who then finds the right agency in the Treasure Valley to assist you.
Being a dispatcher can be a tough job and that's why this week, dispatchers around the nation, including right here in Idaho were celebrated for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
“So every call when it comes to needing a first responder starts with 911. We are the first responders, the first ones to take that call and to dispatch it out,” Ada County Dispatcher Courtney Lyskoski said.
The week is meant to thank dispatchers around the country and support the staff who help keep our communities safe and get people the help they need in a crisis.
"We have our center decorated and then we’ve had people bringing in doughnuts and pastries, BBQ and pizza and so much food," Lyskoski said.
The Ada County Sheriff’s dispatch team stays busy. Since 2017, dispatchers have answered over 500,000 911 calls and 1 million non-emergency calls. In 2021, dispatchers answered 158,766 calls into 911 which is about 17,000 more calls than in 2020.
In 2018, Ada County added the option to text 911 if someone is in a crisis and cannot call. In 2021, dispatchers received around 400 text messages to 911.
“They may go from delivering a baby to a neighbor problem to somebody that’s actively suicidal and they’re on the phone trying to talk to those people. They’re dealing with death over the phone and sometimes they deal with pretty horrific things and then the line just goes dead and they don’t get much closure and they’re onto the next call,” Clifford said.
This year the Idaho legislature passed legislation granting the “Rule of 80” which allows first responders, such as dispatchers to retire at or over the age of 50 if their age plus years of service is equal to 80 years.