The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) is joining national public safety leaders in recognizing April 2021 as National 911 Education Month to promote 911 awareness and proper usage.
National 911 Education Month is a campaign to help Americans of all ages recognize the importance of calling or texting 911 and the role they play in ensuring effective and efficient emergency response in times of crisis. Groups including the United States Congress and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), a leading public safety association, have also recognized April as National 911 Education Month, and are encouraging the media, the 911 community, the wireless industry, and public information providers to engage in 911 awareness and education activities this month.
“When calling 911, remember to stay calm, and be aware of your location so you can help 911 dispatchers locate you during an emergency,” said Blake DeRouchey, Iowa’s E911 program manager.
In addition to highlighting the importance of 911, HSEMD is recognizing Iowa’s dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, April 11-17. “Iowa’s 911 dispatchers are ready to take a call on what may be the worst day of someone’s life,” said DeRouchey. “Dispatchers go through training that enables them to handle stressful calls on a daily basis. For the public, knowing what to expect when you call 911 may assist you in staying calm, which can help dispatchers get the right emergency assistance out in a timely manner.”
In 2020, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a bill recognizing Iowa’s public safety telecommunicators as first responders. DeRouchey explained that prior to the 2020 legislation, public safety telecommunicators were often classified as clerical workers.
“When you look at everything telecommunicators have to do, including providing immediate on-scene medical instructions to bystanders while simultaneously using radio to instruct on-scene emergency responders, and also providing routing instructions to emergency personnel, all while remaining calm under extreme stress, it’s obvious telecommunicators are so much more than clerical workers,” he said.
To learn more about how to use 911 in an emergency, visit the Ready Iowa website at www.beready.iowa.gov under the “Be Prepared” tab. NENA has also made a number of public safety educational resources for the media, 911 professionals, public educators, and citizens available via its National 911 Education Month webpage, https://www.nena.org/page/911_