SPEARFISH, S.D. — April 11 – 17 is Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. The week is intended to highlight the importance of 911 dispatchers and the important role they play in public safety.
911 dispatchers at the Spearfish Communication Center work year-round answering calls from the citizens of Spearfish to help them in one way or another.
In 2020, the center took over 25,000 calls from the general public to connect with public safety providers in the city.
Jude Warner, Communications Supervisor for Spearfish Public Safety, said, “The phone calls from the public obviously that is the biggest spot where we’re getting calls.”
When calls come into the Communication Center, there are no scripts being used, as every call and situation is different. In order to work at the center, one must go through training to be able to properly assist whoever they are talking to and to ask the right questions.
“Once the phone call is answered our first question always is where something is happening, getting a good location, and then finding out what it is that is happening,” Warner said.
The center handles both emergency and non-emergency calls like missing animals or noise complaints. Taking multiple calls at once becomes overwhelming, but the system will automatically put calls made to 911 to the top of the list.
Warner said, “We can be almost answering that phone call, but if a 911 comes in, it takes precedence. So a 911 will then be answered over a regular phone call.”
The center works closely with the general public but they also help assist law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services by dispatching them to the correct location as quickly as possible.
Warner added, “I can’t say enough about how helpful it is when they will answer the questions that we are asking. In order to get those officers to the correct place and to know what’s happening even before they get there.”