Special week honors 911 dispatchers

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- They are the people you call when you need help most. 9-1-1 dispatchers have plenty of technology at their fingertips to help you in an emergency.
Sunday is the start of National Dispatchers Week, a time to recognize our dispatchers for the role they play in helping you in an emergency.

Despite all of the upgrades in technology over the years, dispatchers say there are a few key things you should remember if you're ever in an emergency situation.

“No one calls 911 because they are having a good day. Typically they are in high stress situations and very much not aware. You would be surprised how many times people call us and have no idea what their address is,” Greg Wallace, Director of the Eau Claire Emergency Center said.

Wallace says in the 34 years he’s been working at the Eau Claire Communications Center a lot has changed. He says while all of the changes in technology have made it easier for dispatchers to find you in an emergency, calling 911 from a cellphone doesn’t always mean they can pinpoint your exact location.

“Cellphones have given the general public, in my opinion, a sense of false security,” Wallace said.

Wallace says in a perfect situation 911 dispatchers will be able to pinpoint your exact location. He adds most of the time dispatchers are only able to get a radius of 300 yards where the call is coming from.

If a GPS can't give an exact address that's where training on the part of dispatchers comes in

“If they can’t tell me where they are I try to have them try to recall some landmarks in the area,” Danielle Wik, Telecommunicator for Eau Claire dispatch said.

Wallace says it is always a good idea for parents or homeowners to post their address prominently around the house so guests are able to direct first responders to your address in an emergency.

“Make sure it’s not only visible outside the house but have the address in several places in the house so babysitters or someone visiting even the kids themselves can give us numbers over the phone,” Wallace said.

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