(STORY BY KYLE BALZER)
This week, April 9th to 15th, nationally recognizes Public Safety Telecommunicators, specifically those who take 911 calls in an emergency.
Christine Halovich is a 20-year veteran as a Prince George fire dispatcher, serving and help more than 75 departments across Northern BC.
She says even though she and her colleagues are never on scene with fire fighters, they classify themselves as a first responder.
“I do think that we are a forgotten first responder. People don’t realize that we are first responders and we may not be out in the field, but we are there from the very beginning to the very end. From when the 911 call comes in, to when the trucks come back to the hall.”
She is one of several people across Canada who are there to assist those in distress, painting a picture for the firefighters so they may be fully prepared.
Halvoich describes the job as fast, but also very rewarding.
“You go from zero to 60 in half a second! It may be a different kind of stress than what the firefighters are dealing with, but we’ve got a really good team here, and it’s just great.”
The Prince George dispatch answers, on average, 14,000 emergency phone calls every year, and the public is being asked to continue to rely on them whenever a situation arises.
Halovich adds it’s more than just one person helping on the other side.
“Without my co-workers, it would be hard. We help each other out; one person is taking the call, while the other person is dispatching the call. The information that we’re gathering is so important for firefighter safety and for public safety as well.”
She monitors calls for four regional districts in Northern BC, including Fraser-Fort George, Cariboo, Bulkley-Nechako, and Kitimat-Stikine, which covers over 300,000 square-kilometres.