ASCII��� �����������������������������������

United States Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) Emergency 911 Operators answered more than 10,000 calls in 2019. When they answer those calls they don’t know what situation they will be assisting with. It’s that unpredictability that veteran operator Peter Efroymson thrives off, “You never know what you are going to deal with during your shift.” Efroymson has been dispatching help for the YPG community for nearly 30 years.

Diane Heffernan, a fellow 911 Operator is much newer to the field with just over a year of experience, “I saw it as an opportunity to help the entire installation on a daily basis.”

Efroymson and Heffernan are just two members of YPG’s dedicated Emergency 911 Operator team whose service extends beyond the YPG community. “We routinely work with the Department of Public Safety, Rural Metro and the Yuma County Sheriff Office,” explains Supervisory Emergency Services Operator, Michael Smith.

While no two days are alike, Efroymson describes a so-called typical day, “911 Operators monitor the feeds from 50 plus cameras, and the alarms for over 100 buildings. We check with off-post agencies to determine for example how many ambulances or medical helicopters are available.”

They perform all these tasks from the Enhanced 911 Center located at YPG. “We work 12-hour shifts and are surrounded by computerized control panels that require detailed dexterity,” explains Smith.

When taking a call, 911 Operators need to act quickly and confidently because during an emergency every second could make the difference between life and death or the safety of first responders.

“I see 911 Operators as being the backbone of public safety. There are times we lead people through some very difficult moments. It is important to keep in mind that we are the lifeline between someone that needs help and those that will be providing it,” says Heffernan.

Those difficult moments can make this line of work emotionally draining. “Hearing some calls can bring you down, hearing ‘my husband is dying’ or a husband crying ‘my wife is dead’ to the first responders can make you emotional for them.”

However, Smith says those who can handle the demands of the job can have a gratifying career. “Working for the safety and well-being of your family, friends and neighbors makes this job a highly rewarding one.”

To ensure YPG 911 Operators are equipped with the skills they need to handle the pressure of the job, Efroymson and Heffernan attended the Western Arizona Law Enforcement Academy earlier this year.

The three-week academy consisted of instruction and exams. “We were trained in Incident Command, CPR, the National Crime Information Center Law Enforcement database operations, and emergency medical dispatch. We also had numerous lectures on things like 911 Operator responsibilities during active shooters, kidnaps, abuse, neglect and vehicle pursuits,” explained Efroymson.

While he has a wealth of experience on the job, the opportunity to attend the academy provided benefits for Efroymson and others in the department. “It has given me a refresher on various topics from a field perceptive, also a new sense of pride in the job I do. It has allowed me to pass new information along to others and allowed the department as a whole to compare and contrast the operations of other agencies to see what we can use to improve our operations.”

If YPG residents dial 911 they will reach operators at the Enhanced 911 Center at YPG.