MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — April 10th through April 16th is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time to celebrate and thank those who answer our calls during an emergency and dedicate their lives to serving the public. 

When a 9-1-1 specialist gets a call, the first thing they do is get a good location for the person who needs help. Next, they figure out the nature of the situation. And last, but not least, they input all of this information right into this system to send to a dispatcher.

Public Safety Emergency Communications Specialist, Oktobrina Nunez from an early age was interested in a law enforcement career because she comes from a family of police officers. But Nunez says although the 9-1-1 specialists work closely with police officers, they don’t receive the same benefits.

“Just recently, we were classified as first responders as opposed to a clerical position,” said Nunez. “We still don’t have pensions, so those types of things kind of don’t make you feel appreciated.”

During the pandemic, 9-1-1 communications centers have seen a surge in mental health calls, and have experienced recruitment and retention issues. The Director of Montgomery County 9-1-1 communications center, Cassandra Onley began her career 31 years ago and says when hiring she looks for someone who is empathetic, dedicated, caring… and can stay calm in a crisis.

“It is a pleasure when we see folks that are coming to us that have that mindset and customer service that we are here to really serve the public,” said Only.

Montgomery County Communications Center has several open positions, to apply for those roles visit their website.