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Phoenix thanking dispatchers during Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

(KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Fire Department is honoring some of its own as it marks National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

The alarm center in Phoenix on Lower Buckeye Road handles thousands of calls each month for fire and medical emergencies. Fire Capt. Reda Bigler said the men and women in the field can’t thank the dispatchers enough, but they can try.

“Lots of gifts, lots of sweet things, nice words,” Bigler said.

Nearly 80 dispatchers handle automatic-aid calls for 27 Valley cities. They also answer calls for mutual aid in 15 more.

Debbie Osekowsky, who lives in Peoria, has been working as a Phoenix fire dispatcher for 25 years. She said her job is all about service.

“You know, I always look at my job as I set the tone for how that whole call is going to come out,” she said.

And yet, Osekowsky said, “It’s not a normal job. You don’t always talk to the most normal callers. You have to have a good appetite for the unusual; you have to have the stamina to work weird hours.

“It’s a really, really fun job – it really is. This is a job for someone who loves excitement, who enjoys working with other people.”

Bigler said for all the stress and 10-hour days, dispatchers truly have a vital role.

“The call comes in, and it’s these dispatchers that send [firefighters] the information,” she said. “And then, ultimately, stay on the line and talk somebody through CPR, how to pull somebody from a pool.”

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