Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators.
It was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.)
Sheriff's Office in 1981 and was observed only at that agency for three years.
Members of the Virginia and North Carolina chapters of the
Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) became involved in the mid-1980s.
By the early 1990s, the national APCO organization convinced Congress of the need for a formal proclamation.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced what became H.J. Res. 284 to create "National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week."
According to Congressional procedure, it was introduced twice more in 1993 and 1994,
and then became permanent, without the need for yearly introduction.
The official name of the week when originally introduced in Congress in 1991 was "National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week."
In the intervening years, it has become known by several other names, including
"National Public-Safety Telecommunications Week" and "International Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week."
The Congressional resolution also stated there were more than "500,000 telecommunications specialists,"
although other estimates put the number of dispatchers at just over 200,000.
The Congressional figure may include support personnel and perhaps
even those in the commercial sector of public safety communications.
"There is, without a doubt, a phenomenon
dispatchers can experience
called "compassion overload."
But there is something else
they should be able to recognize,
a fundamental and self-nurturing tendency
of the human condition to care
about what happens to others.
Dispatchers have the privilege of channeling
that care professionally and competently
to others on a daily basis.
It's often what gives others the hope
that they might have a life
after the emergency has passed.
It can also fortify dispatchers
to make their life-affirming work a career. "
-from Police Legal Sciences training material