Clackamas County is honoring the hard work, poise and courage of its 911 dispatchers by recognizing April 11-17 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
County commissioners heard a brief presentation on Thursday, April 15, from Cheryl Bledsoe, county 911 telecommunications director, who outlined both the diligence of staff and what a trying year it was for those working at the county's C-COM dispatch center, as well as those at the LO-COM dispatch center in Lake Oswego which serves communities west of the Willamette River.
"This year has been extraordinary, unlike any other in our history from a 911 perspective," Bledsoe said. "Not only have we dealt with the three disasters that you're very familiar with, but in September, during the wildfires, the Clackamas 911 center also had to evacuate while at the same time handling almost 50,000 911 calls over a two-week period."
Bledsoe told the board that Sept. 10, 2020, was the first time that an evacuation of that size and scale has ever been conducted for a 911 center, and she lauded her staff for their professionalism in not dropping a single call during that period.
"Our staff have worked every single day, even through the pandemic. We have 45 dispatchers here at Clackamas County that have served tirelessly throughout the 283,000 calls they've handled in this past year, and continue to serve on a regular basis," she said.
County Chair Tootie Smith commended Bledsoe and her staff for the tremendous job they've completed over the past year in dealing with so much trauma and chaos.
"My hat is off to you and your staff for your remarkable effort, and continuing the enormous amount of calls that came in," Smith said. "I just think this is a fine example of how government serves people very well."
Vice Chair Paul Savas said that the proclamation Bledsoe read before the board does a good job of recognizing the unique skill set of those who work within Clackamas County's 911 dispatch centers and the stress they deal with on a daily basis in helping people on the other end of the line who are typically experiencing the worst day of their life, while at the same time remaining poised and level-headed.
Proclaiming April 11-17th, 2021 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Clackamas County
WHEREAS emergencies can occur at any time that require police, fire or emergency medical services within Clackamas County; and,
WHEREAS when an emergency occurs the prompt response of police officers, firefighters and paramedics is critical to the protection of life and preservation of property; and,
WHEREAS the safety of our police officers and firefighters is dependent upon the quality and accuracy of information obtained from residents who call Clackamas County 9-1-1 Communications; and,
WHEREAS Public Safety Telecommunicators are the first and most critical contact our residents have with emergency services; and,
WHEREAS Public Safety Telecommunicators of Clackamas County provide life-saving information, deliver babies and provide CPR instructions to bystanders who may have never been trained, and,
WHEREAS each employee has exhibited compassion, understanding and professionalism during the performance of their job, and
WHEREAS, this past year provided significant challenges as 911 employees navigated response through a global pandemic, local wildfires that both threatened their homes personally and caused 911 operations to evacuate to alternate locations and stayed on-site through a significant ice storm & power outages;
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED, that the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners declares April 11-17, 2021, to be National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Clackamas County, in honor of the first responders whose diligence and professionalism keep our county and residents safe. We encourage all residents to join us in celebrating the commitment and courage that 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers and support staff exhibit daily in their service to the residents of Clackamas County.
Dated this 15th day of April, 2021.
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