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April 14-20 Is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Each Year, One Week In April Is Selected To Recognize 9-1-1 Operators Or Dispatchers

April 17, 2019 - 1:27 pm

LAS VEGAS (KXNT) - Most of us take these lifesavers for granted. However, if you are ever in an emergency, they're the first line for help.

Nearly 1,000 times each day, people in Southern Nevada call 9-1-1 to report a fire or request medical assistance. When a person calls 9-1-1 to report a fire or medical emergency in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas or Clark County, the call is handled by the Combined Communications Center located in Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Headquarters. The 9-1-1 operators at the center answered more than a half-million 9-1-1 calls in 2018.

Each year, one week in April is selected to recognize public safety communicators, usually known as 9-1-1 operators or dispatchers, for their performance in helping to save lives and property.  This year National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is April 14-20.

The Combined Communications Center is the fire and medical 9-1-1 dispatch center for the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, unincorporated Clark County and the Mount Charleston Fire Protection District. The center handles more than 500,000 calls yearly for all of Clark County in Southern Nevada, except for the cities of Henderson, Mesquite and Boulder City. The center is responsible for approximately two million residents and 40 million visitors each year. In addition, the center receives emergency calls for the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport, Laughlin, all rural areas including Mount Charleston, Red Rock Conservation Area and all the rural communities in the county. The center covers calls for approximately 6,000 square miles in Southern Nevada. The center is managed by a committee made up of members from Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, North Las Vegas Fire Department, Clark County Fire Department, and the Mount Charleston Fire Protection District.

In 2016, the Combined Communications Center was designated an Emergency Medical Dispatch Center of Excellence, approved by the Board of Accreditation of International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). As such, the Combined Communications Center earned the honor of becoming the 209th Emergency Medical Dispatch Accredited Center in the world.

People are reminded to call 9-1-1 only in the case of life-threatening emergencies, such as heart attack, stopped breathing, electrocution, severe bleeding, cardiac arrest, motor vehicle accidents with injuries, or any other incident in which the life of a person is in imminent danger, OR when property is being or has been damaged by dangerous events, such as a fire, aircraft crash, motor vehicle accident with injuries, natural gas leak or wires down in the street.

People should call 3-1-1 if the situation is urgent but not life-threatening, such as minor injuries (broken bones, severe headache, or flu-like symptoms) and other incidents such as people using fireworks, suspicious people in vacant homes, barking dogs or loud parties.

If you are put on hold, do not hang up and try again. Calls to 9-1-1 are answered in the order they were received; if you hang up, you will be put at the end of the line when you call again. Sometimes for large incidents, like a large fire, many people will be calling to report the fire at the same time, which might cause a back-up of calls and a recorded message is heard. Be patient and stay calm; dispatchers will answer the phone as quickly as they can.

Do not use social media such as Facebook, Twitter or text messages to report an emergency. Use 9-1-1 instead and talk with a 9-1-1 dispatcher. Never hang up until the dispatcher tells you to, as additional information could be needed.