They are the people charged to keep their heads when other around them are losing theirs. This week, the Lebanon Police Department celebrated National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, and local officials honored unsung heroes.
The week is designated as a time when citizens can thank public safety men and women who respond to emergency calls and dispatch emergency professionals and equipment during times of crisis.
These 911 call-takers, dispatchers, technicians who maintain radio and emergency phone systems, communications staff trainers, communications center personnel, and other public safety telecommunications staff across the country work, often behind the scenes, to help the public during emergencies.
To celebrate the week in Lebanon, state Rep. Mark Pody and Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead visited the police department and presented proclamations to the people who answer the phone when a member of the public calls with and emergency – whether it be an accident, crime or even a baby coming ahead of schedule.
Courtney Sellars is the department's communications training officer. She said the department employees nine people to man the phones and dispatch police and fire personnel to those in need.
"Having lives in your hands is a high pressure job to say the least," Sellars said. "Police Chief Scott Bowen has been working on getting more communications personnel in his budget. It is stressful. We've been running short and trying to get someone in here."
At a recent budget meeting, Bowen said he was losing his communications personnel to surrounding towns because they leave for better pay.
Sellars said emergency communications workers have to be able to keep a lot of balls in the air while staying cool under fire.
"You can have a lot going on, and other emergencies don't stop just because you're taking a call," she said.