Public safety workers celebrate

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Local emergency dispatchers are celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week by making a pledge to get active.

Dispatchers at the Snohomish County Communications Center, known as SNOCOM, participated in a 5-kilometer walk Sunday to raise awareness of the weeklong national celebration, officials said.

“It was wonderful,” said Debbie Grady, SNOCOM’s executive director.

The walk was an opportunity for dispatchers to spend time with police and firefighters who they typically only talk to over emergency radios, she said.

“Police and fire dispatchers play an important role in our community’s public safety. The job is often stressful. Having a 5K walk encourages a healthy lifestyle by emphasizing exercise as a way to reduce stress and maintain fitness when working a deskbound job,” Grady said.

Dispatchers must stay plugged into computers and radios to send help when and where its needed. There are two emergency dispatch center in Snohomish County. SNOCOM serves most of the southern cities and areas in the county.

SNOCOM was created in 1971 and serves the cities of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and the town of Woodway. They also dispatch Snohomish County Fire Protection District 1 and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2009, SNOCOM handled more than 255,000 calls, of which about 170,000 were emergencies, Grady said. They employ 44 people with 35 dispatch positions.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week is held each year to increase community awareness regarding the critical role public safety dispatch personnel play in making the 911 system work each and every day.

The week was created by an act of Congress in 1991 to recognize emergency dispatchers.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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Check out SNOCOM’s Web site at www.snocom.org.

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