Over the last week, the men and women working behind the scenes in McDowell’s 911 Communications Center were honored by local agencies and partners as part of a national initiative honoring dispatchers.

Every year, the second week of April is established as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which honors 911 communication agencies and dispatchers from across the United States. The week-long event, initially set up in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California, is recognized as “a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public”, according to the National Public Safety Telecommunicators week website.

On April 4, NC Governor Roy Cooper signed a proclamation naming April 14-20 as this year’s Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which reads “…the state of North Carolina commends the many dedicated public safety telecommunicators whose ongoing contributions help to keep our state and residents safe…”

Over the last several days, the Communications Center has been treated to social media gratitude and gifts from numerous agencies, including (but not limited to): Artisana Ice Cream from the McDowell Rescue Squad, a box of Mr. Bob’s Donuts from the Marion Police Department, lunch from Dysartsville Fire Department, pimento cheese and cheesecakes from Bruce’s Fabulous Finds, a gift basket from radio ministry 106.9 The Light FM, a cake from Joanne Howle Realty and a special message posted on a Wendy’s restaurant sign that read “Thank you 911 Telecommunicators for all you do.”

On Thursday, 911 Manager Amberlie Buff and Ashford-North Cove Engineer Levi Pittman presented the working telecommunicators with a plaque of appreciation, courtesy of the Ashford Fire Department, to hang inside the center.

“If you notice on the plaque, it has us (Ashford-North Cove) as a department, but we also say ‘the citizens’ because we also rely on them to give us the communication that we really need and they also help the citizens out too,” said Pittman, who has also worked the center as a telecommunicator. “We didn’t want that to go unnoticed, on behalf of me as a citizen and as a firefighter.”

Buff later reflected on the gifts and praise received by local stations and partners.

“We have had so much support this week and it’s been absolutely amazing,” said Buff. “We all support each other and we have super teamwork between our agencies, and we truly appreciate the outpour and love from our agencies. And McDowell County really strives to make sure what we’re doing is to take care of its citizens, and that’s why we’re here. We have I-40, so a lot of our citizens aren’t even local, but no matter who calls, everyone’s going to get the same treatment and service.”

For more information on National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, visit https://www.npstw.org/. For more information on McDowell County 911 Communications, go to https://bit.ly/2UobPA9 or visit the McDowell County 911/Emergency Management Facebook page.

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