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Honoring Public Safety Telecommunicators

The State 911 Committee (SNC) gives tribute to Michigan telecommunicators and their vital contributions to public safety. In 1991, the United States Congress designated the second week in April, this year, April 10-16, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. In Michigan, the SNC is privileged to honor those who serve in this important role in our state.

“We have experienced another year of working with the pandemic and the havoc it creates for our 911 professionals, public safety partners, and our communities.  Staffing issues and elevated safety measures, in addition to day-to-day emergencies, are becoming an unwelcomed norm for our PSAPs.  Resiliency and dedication are what our 911 emergency telecommunicators are all about – they just continue to weather the storm with grace and grit,” stated Ms. Joni Harvey, State 911 Administrator.  “In a time when we are trying to remember what life was like pre-pandemic, we need to start focusing on what matters most to us post-pandemic and tending to our 911 professionals is at the top of my list.  It is vital we take care of those who are taking care of everyone else; this can start with something as simple as showing gratitude by saying ‘Thank you!’ and expressing our sincere appreciation and love for our first, first responders.” 

In Michigan, 911 centers serve as the primary point for dispatching police, fire, and EMS responses. In addition to answering and dispatching emergency calls, telecommunicators also provide pre-arrival instructions for police, fire, and medical calls, activate weather alerts, coordinate additional incident scene response such as medical examiners, child protective services, hospitals, road commission, utility and public works department notifications, callouts for specialized response teams such as search and rescue, SWAT, negotiating teams, and hazmat response teams.

Telecommunicators receive calls through many different 911 dialing systems including wireless, land-line telephones, Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VoIP), and text messages.

The Chair of the State 911 Committee, Mr. Jeff Troyer, stated, “The men and women who answer the call for help in our State are well-trained and exemplary. They have persevered through two years of a worldwide pandemic and experience more stressors and disturbing events in one shift than a normative person experiences in a lifetime. I want to thank and commend all telecommunicators for making sure the residents and visitors of the State of Michigan get the help they need when they need it most.” 

The SNC was established in accordance with Public Act 79 of 1999. It is a 21-member organization that works to promote the successful development, implementation, and operation of 911 systems across Michigan.

Quick Facts about 911:

On February 16, 1968, Alabama Speaker of the House, Mr. Rankin Fite, made the first 911 call from the Haleyville City Hall. 

Today there are 136 primary Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in Michigan.

According to the SNC’s 2021 Annual Report to the Michigan Legislature, of the counties and service districts that reported, telecommunicators in Michigan answered: 5,976,417 calls to 911; 11,459 texts-to-911; and 7,403,925 calls from non-emergency 911 lines. 

There are approximately 2,100 telecommunicators in Michigan.

Certified 911 telecommunicators in Michigan must complete at least 80 hours of basic and advanced dispatch training within their first 24 months of employment, maintain continuing education requirements by participating in approved courses, and accumulate at least 24 continuing education hours every 24 months.

Michigan currently has 79 counties converted to an IP-based service, which allows for more advanced Next-Generation 911 call handling. Two additional counties, plus three Wayne County Service Districts, are working through the transition process. 

As of February 2022, 82 Michigan counties and three Wayne County Service Districts have deployed text-to-911.  A map of current text-to-911 deployments can be found at www.michigan.gov/snc under “Emerging Technology.”