Adopt a dispatcher: Celebrating headset heroes

Published 10:30 am Saturday, April 1, 2023

Most people call 911 during the worst part of their day, but they never see the person who sent the first responders out. Did you ever wonder who is on the other end of the phone?

Chambers County 911 Communications is celebrating this year’s National Dispatchers Week from April 9 to April 15 to “adopt a dispatcher” as a way of honoring the dispatchers who help to save lives every day.

“We are the first responders. We take that call, and we dispatch it out to the people who need to get it,” said Communications Manager Darlene Billingsley. “We’re the ones all about hearing the crying and the ‘help me’s.”

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During the week, dispatchers will celebrate the “Headset Heroes” theme by decorating their headsets and dressing up each day in fun outfits. 

“We’re all going to decorate our headsets — just have a little fun, kind of break up the stuff that we have to go through,” Billingsley said. 

The community is encouraged to adopt a dispatcher with a small gift, a gift basket or handwritten notes or card to show their appreciation for the office. 

“It’s a good stress relief for us, we try to work together and always talk to each other because we sometimes don’t know the outcome of the call to give,” Billingsley said.

The Chambers County 911 Communications receives for every city law enforcement as well as the sheriff’s office. They often answer around 200 calls a day. 

“I think it’s important for my dispatchers to see that they are cared about, and they do realize that they are the ones who are taking those calls, whether they’re good or bad calls,” Billingsley said. “I’m hoping to see that these guys will feel just as important as the other first responders.”

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week was first founded in 1981 to honor the individuals who dedicated their lives to public safety and information. 

Chambers County Communications is working with the Alabama Public Safety to get its dispatchers certified as first responders. Half of the office has completed the certification.