Answering the Call to Help
Communications Services Manager Kerry-Anne Murray-Bates said the Toronto Police Service’s Communications Centre is the first point of contact for every 9-1-1 call whether it be for police, fire or ambulance.
“That means that every 9-1-1 call in the city comes into our 9-1-1 Centre first, the calls are triaged for the appropriate response required and our co-responding partners, Toronto Paramedic Services and Toronto Fire Services, are brought into the calls when they are needed,” she said. “Our agencies work together to provide safety and care to the community.”
Murray-Bates said Communicator Operators share many special qualities that make them ready to handle the challenges of their work.
“They give of themselves every day to perfect strangers that are in crisis or in need of help,” she said. “The callers are angry, frustrated, injured, sick, terrified and/or emotionally distraught and in crisis. A Communications Operator’s day is full of trauma and critical stress and yet they are the most selfless, resilient, empathetic and courageous people. They always answer and are always ready to help.”
Telecommunicators Week is celebrated the second week of April across North America.
“This week is such an important and fantastic way to recognize the valuable work done by our Emergency communicators daily,” added Murray-Bates, who started her career with the Service as a Communications Operator 32 years ago. “They are truly the most important people you will never see.”
Staff Superintendent Randy Carter said the Service’s Communications Operators help keep Toronto neighbourhoods safe by answering the call when communities need help and dispatching the appropriate response.
“Not only do they send the police when necessary, but they now divert calls to community crisis partners who are sometimes best equipped to serve their needs,” he said. “I am extremely proud of our telecommunicators who have worked side by side, wearing personal protective equipment, during the pandemic to ensure that they were here to answer the call. I am equally proud at how we work with our partner emergency responding agencies so that the public who live, work, visit and play in Toronto can feel safe.”
Priority Operations Superintendent Hugh Ferguson noted that Telecommunicators Week is a time to recognize the importance of the work that our Communications Operators perform.
“They are truly the ‘First Responder’ when someone calls 9-1-1,” he pointed out. “Our members deal with calls of all sorts, from persons in crisis to shootings to personal injury collisions, all the while presenting in a calm, cool and collected manner. Their work is behind the scenes, but it forms the basis of every emergency response that takes place in Toronto.”
Communications Operators are a vital link between citizens needing urgent assistance and police, fire and medical personnel responding to calls for service. They are required to learn how to ask pertinent questions, give sound advice and process calls relating to a range of offences and incidents.
As a result, they must be attentive listeners, show good judgment and common sense, be critical thinkers and stay calm in a crisis.
Communications Operators, also work in dispatcher roles, ensuring that the 9-1-1 caller information is relayed to officers arriving at a scene as well and sharing the information that officers are relaying back --multiple officers over multiple calls.
To learn more, take a moment to follow the Communications Services social media channels below. Please note the social channels are not for reporting purposes and are not monitored 24/7; in an emergency please call 9-1-1.
TikTok - @Comm911TPS