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 911 CARES project has a wide range of NTW logo products that are great for gifts—or just for yourself! And the project gives back to the dispatching community, so they’re worth of support. APCO has a special blog to share NTW celebrations and honors.
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.
Of course, you don’t need NTW to honor your public safety dispatchers for excellence! You can write them a commendation, mention their “good job” at a shift briefing, or just give them a pat on the back.
DISPATCH Magazine On-Line has prepared some materials about NTW that you will find useful as your agency considers how to recognize the dispatchers that have worked so hard during the past year. We’ve included a link to the Congressional Record for the 102nd Session of Congress that searches and displays official documents about National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week from its origin in 1991.
- APCO NTW page
- NENA – April is 9-1-1 Education Month
- Poem by Alan Burton for the first National Dispatchers Week in 1987
- Tribute to Dispatchers – the often-quoted letter originally written by Loveland (Colo.) Police Chief Thomas Wagner in 1994.
- Original Proclamation from Congress, 1991
- Alan Burton’s recollection of how NTW was started
- President Bush Proclamation – 1992
- President Clinton Proclamation – 1994
- President Clinton Letter – 1996
- California Highway Patrol Proclamation 1999
- Press Release example 2000 [pdf]
- City Council Proclamation Example
- Press Release Examples
- Activity Ideas for the Week
- Proclamation, State of Oregon
- Essex (VT) Proclamation
- Darke County (OH) Proclamation
- A Dispatcher’s View of the Week
- One Dispatcher’s Story of NTW
- Fremont (Calif.) Recognition Page
- Marin County (Calif.) Proclamation
- A Dispatcher’s Thank-You
- Proclamation, State of Alabama
- A Promise — Earth Angels In Headsets, a poem by Sue Pivetta [pdf]
- APCO’s 2002 press release on NTW
- Copy of President Bush’s 2002 Proclamation
- APCO 2002 brochure – ideas, activities and sample press release (pdf)
- Public Safety Training Consultants (PSTC) has various gimcracks for NTW
- 2003 Proclamation from Coral Springs (Fla.)
- 2003 letter from APCO president
- McKinley County (NM) annual program information
- The Sacramento County Regional Fire/EMS Comm Center createda a clever, movie-related display for 2003 NTW.
- Program from 2006 banquet held by the Central San Joaquin Valley (Calif.) public safety agencies for their public safety communications staffs. [pdf]
- A 2007 letter honoring dispatchers written by Dane County (Wisc.) sheriff Dave Mahoney (pdf)
- Intergraph Public Safety introduced a 9-1-1 Education toolkit for PSAPs, as part of its support for NTW.
- Feedback from 2009 activities in Washington County (Virg.)
- Day-by-day suggestions for NTW activities
We have designed three certificates that you can download and print on colored paper to give to dispatchers that you recognize during National Telecommunicator Week. The certificates are in Acrobat (pdf) format for easy print-out (you can buy “certificate” type pre-printed paper at various stationery stores).