The California Highway Patrol’s public safety dispatchers are the unseen first responder professionals serving as the essential link between the public and emergency personnel in times of crisis. To highlight their indispensable service, the CHP joins public safety agencies throughout the country in recognizing April 10-16, 2022, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week.
“I want to formally thank the hundreds of women and men serving as public safety operators and dispatchers,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “They are trained professionals called upon daily to provide comfort, direction, and knowledge to help guide the public through an emergency situation.”
More than 700 public safety dispatchers work in the CHP’s 24 communications centers statewide. The CHP handled more than 7.5 million calls for service statewide in 2021. Of those calls, 5.3 million were to 9-1-1.
Calls are never routine, and dispatchers must immediately determine the correct response to ensure safety in an emergency. Dispatchers are also in constant communication with patrol officers to look up license plates and driver’s license numbers and running criminal record checks on wanted subjects.
People may also use Text-to-911 to contact a communications center during an emergency. In 2021, the CHP handled more than 5,000 Text-to-911 contacts statewide. However, because voice calls to 9-1-1 provide more information to dispatchers, the CHP always recommends a voice call to 9-1-1 during an emergency when possible.
Calling 9-1-1 can be stressful and the following tips will help callers during an emergency
- Stay calm.
- Call using a landline telephone if possible.
- Be prepared to provide your name, phone number, address or location, and a detailed description of the incident or vehicle being reported.
- Cellular telephones may not tell the dispatcher precisely where you are. The location of the emergency may be the single most important information for the dispatcher in case the call is cut off.
- Wait for the dispatcher to ask questions and then answer clearly and calmly.
- Listen carefully and follow all directions provided by the dispatcher.
- Be prepared to provide a physical description if the emergency involves a criminal suspect.
- Remember, 9-1-1 is for life-threatening emergencies. Misuse of the emergency 9-1-1 system will result in a delay for callers with real emergencies and is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.
If you are ready to answer the call to serve, the CHP is hiring public safety dispatchers. To apply or for more information, visit recruitment.chp.ca.gov.