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Dispatchers provide vital link

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen has always referred to department dispatchers as "unsung heroes" for the valuable role they play in responding to 911 emergency calls. This group works extremely hard, provides heroic tasks each and every day, but is seldom recognized.

Even though some of the West Fargo dispatchers have now relocated to the Red River Regional Dispatch Center, this appreciation has not faded, with the Center Board of Authority offering up kudos to all its dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, being observed through Saturday.

The dispatcher is the vital link as the first individual to come in contact with 911 callers. They must listen carefully, provide life saving advice and directions, as well as coordinate efforts of multiple departments or agencies, all within a few seconds time.

For this they are to be commended.

The following piece, written by an unknown author, perhaps best explains the crucially important role they play.

Who am I?

I am the voice that calms the mother into breathing life back into an unconscious infant son.

I am the invisible hand that holds and comforts the elderly man who woke up this morning to find his wife of 50 years had passed away during the night.

I sent help when you had your first automobile accident.

I am the one who tries to obtain the information from callers to ensure that the scene is safe for those I dispatch to emergencies, all the while anticipating the worst and hoping for the best.

I am the psychologist who readily adapts my tone of voice to serve the needs of my callers with compassion and understanding.

I am the ears that listen to the needs of all those I serve.

I have heard the screams of faceless people I will never meet or forget.

I was there, though unseen by my comrades, in the field during the most trying emergencies.

I have tried to visualize the scene to coincide with the voice I heard. I usually am not privy to the outcome of a call and so I wonder.

I am the one who works weekends, strange shifts and holidays. People say they would not want my job, yet I am at this vocation by choice.

Those I help do not call back to say thank you. Still there is comfort in the challenge, integrity and purpose of my employment.