BILLINGS — This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time to celebrate and thank those who we first speak to on what could be the worst day of our lives.
“We deal with some pretty serious stuff here. You can’t dwell on it. You just have to roll with the punches,” says Mikayla Beyl, a telecommunicator at the Yellowstone County 911 dispatch center in Billings.
The job of a public safety telecommunicator is to help in any way that they can after receiving a 911 call. They also communicate with dispatchers who then alert the appropriate authorities.
Despite having one-on-one conversations with callers, the job relies largely on teamwork, telecommunicators say. When people call 911, telecommunicators type in reports sentence by sentence, and every time the enter key is hit, new information such as an address, or injury report, is shared with the dispatcher, said Jeff Love, supervisor at the dispatch center.
There can also be multiple people working on the same call-in situations where the caller’s location is not known.
Beyl says that the job can be stressful especially while taking multiple calls at once. In an effort to combat that, they try to keep the office as lively as possible.
A telecommunicator can make up to $28 per hour after completing three years of training, said Cassie Hoiness, assistant director of the dispatch center.
The county is short on public safety telecommunicators. You can find an application here.