Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. What was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office in 1981 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.

The State of Nevada has been recognizing its telecommunicators (dispatchers) since the mid 1990s. In the work that first responders do daily one may never know if a telecommunicator will be recognized for their part in saving a life or talking to a person who is have the worst day of their lives and still being that friendly calm voice on the other end of that "911" call until help arrives.

These men and women on the other end of the radio are the people who help the first responders in their everyday work and especially in their time of need. When situations go bad they are the ones who are making sure first responders have backup with lights and sirens coming to help.

The dispatcher is always the unseen hero, the keepers of "brothers" or "sisters." They are the first people spoken to in the patrol vehicle to start the shift and last person to say goodnight to at the end of the shift.

Police officers, fireman or any other first responders are seen on a daily basis, but people may never see a telecommunicator doing his or her job as it relates to helping the first responder. Public safety officials' jobs would be impossible and much more dangerous without dispatchers. They are truly a life line.

This is their week to be recognized. If anyone knows a telecommuncator, thank them for the job that they do in helping to protect the community.