If you're an EMS person, you should probably know that April is designated as "National 911 Education Month." It is sponsored by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and is dedicated to educating people about the proper care and feeding of the 911 system and the dedicated emergency telecommunicators that make the system run. The month spreads awareness of how to use the 911 system properly and culminates with "National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week." NENA has some great resources, including pre-made radio, web, print, and video PSAs, on their website: here.
I've always said that I am NOT cut out to be a dispatcher. I just don't think that I personally have the mental quickness, ability to multitask, or organizational skills it would take to be good at the job. As an EMS professional, I revere my dispatchers and show them as much love as I can. Dispatchers are the omnipresent bits of sanity in our daily schedules. We need to treat them well and give them equal respect. They do a terribly hard job and I salute them for it. You should too.
EMS professionals should celebrate National 911 Education Month as well as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week just as much as we celebrate EMS week. We need to do this because well, can you imagine any potential benefits to educating the public about proper use of the 911 system? I think I can. Remember, it's not just about reducing nuisance calls that bog down the system; it's also about educating people when they absolutely need to call 911 because it's better medicine for them or better for society in general. I cringe when I see people who have legitimate medical problems that would benefit from EMS care drive themselves into the ER or even go untreated. It's our mission to help them and the first step is to spend time educating people when it is appropriate to call, without being condescending to those that call inappropriately.
Let's make the message as positive as we can people. We're professionals who care for others. Working EMS is a privilege and we need to remember that. I would rather go to 100 inappropriate calls than miss one single call where we could make a lifesaving difference.
In celebration of the month, I'm going to write a few pieces in honor of those that tell us where to go. I'm going to show some love to the voices in our radios and give you some tools to help spread the message at your own agencies. Tomorrow, look for a piece I've written that you can cut, paste, and send in to your local newspaper as a letter to the editor. Every little bit helps.