Submitted by John Guilfoil for the Bedford Police Department
Chief Robert Bongiorno and the Bedford Police Department are proud to recognize the department’s Emergency Communications Officers (ECOs) during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, April 12 to 18, for their outstanding work supporting Bedford’s Police Officers, Firefighters, and EMTs during emergency situations.
“Our Emergency Communications Officers are highly trained and professional, working under pressure and helping people during extremely difficult circumstances. They deserve to be recognized for their commitment to serving the public every hour of every day without fail,” Chief Bongiorno said. “Their hard work and dedication is often unseen by the public, but none of us could successfully do our jobs without them.”
Bedford opened its Emergency Communications Center (ECC) on April 2, 1997. Eight full-time ECOs currently staff the center, which is located at the Police Station, 24/7.
Emergency Communications Officers answer and dispatch all of the town’s emergency communications which number in the tens of thousands every year.
ECO’s are highly trained to use state of the art equipment and techniques to support emergency personnel and operate under high stress situations which can include conversations with terrified victims, suicidal citizens, residents dealing with medical emergencies, and complaint calls. They are expected to gather vital information and calmly report to emergency personnel without error, all while facing challenges such as people who can’t remember where they are, who they are, or what they just saw.
Every day, often without recognition, ECOs must manage these difficult situations with careful attention to detail all while remaining composed and compassionate. They are the front-line of defense for emergency responders, who rely on their top notch skill set to assign appropriate resources, improve scene safety, and safely prioritize calls. The ECOs also need to handle calls for events such as crimes in progress, hazardous materials incidents, fires, motor vehicle accidents, and domestic disputes.
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week honors the telecommunications personnel in the public safety community every year during the second week of April. The event was originally set up by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California in 1981 to recognize their hard work and commitment to serving the public.