FORT STEWART, Ga. - Fort Stewart Central Dispatch is celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, April 10-16.

This week is sponsored by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials and is recognized by the United States Congress. This recognition honors the hundreds of thousands of men and women who answer emergency calls, dispatch emergency response personnel and equipment, and render life-saving assistance to the world's citizens.

Recent events in the past year have highlighted the important work of the telecommunications professionals at Fort Stewart. The immediate dispatching of emergency vehicles and coordination of mutual aid was instrumental in numerous incidents to include the August 2010 Newman Gym Fire and the September 2010 Winn Army Community Hospital Hostage Incident.

Fort Stewart 911 Emergency Tele-communicators dispatched over 46,000 incidents at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. Of these, there were 3,000 medical emergencies, 2,000 fire related emergencies and 40,500 police incidents and emergencies from March 1, 2010 to March 1, 2011.

Julie Herrmann, The Director of Emergency Services, has recognized National Public Safety Telecommunications Week and honored Fort Stewart Central Dispatch staff by releasing an official Proclamation. Also, the Fort Stewart 911 Center is working towards many upgrades to better serve the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Soldiers, Families, and civilians. Some of these improvements are:

Aca,!Ac The Phase II Wireless program will enable all wireless 911 calls to be sent directly to the Fort Stewart Central Dispatch Center. This will improve services and cut down on response times to incidents.
Aca,!Ac Contractors are completing an upgrade to the fire alarm system. This will improve services and ensure compliance with the FCC narrowband regulations. A new tower and antenna has been installed to ensure communication between Stewart-Hunter alarm systems.
Aca,!Ac The upcoming renovation of Central Dispatch will provide ergonomic workspace and furniture, relocate computer equipment, and provide a more efficient work environment.
Aca,!Ac A radio interoperability upgrade will provide communication between state, county, city and military emergency responders in Southeast Georgia.
Aca,!Ac To ensure Fort Stewart 911 Tele-communicators are prepared to serve the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield communities, they will continue to attend specialized training such as: Crisis Intervention Officer, Communication Best Practices, Dispatcher Judo, Suicide Prevention and active shooter training.

The Fort Stewart 911 Center would like to ask you to help us celebrate this week as well. We ask that if you meet or know an Emergency Tele-communicator tell them "thank you" for the job they do helping to protect our community.

You may know Stewart-Hunter Emergency Services as Military Police, Law Enforcement Services, Fire Department, Rescue Squad, Paramedics, EMT's, or 911. Regardless of what you call us, we're here to help you during an emergency. Because calls for emergency responders in non-emergency situations divert essential resources away from true emergencies, it's important to know when and how to contact us when you need help in an emergency.

A true emergency is a situation in which there is a high probability of death or serious injury to an individual or significant property loss, and actions by emergency responders may reduce the seriousness of the situation.

When the emergency tele-communicator answers the line, please be prepared to answer questions and follow the instructions the emergency tele-communicator gives you. This first question the Emergency Tele-communicator always asks is "Where is your emergency'" If we know where you are located and the call is disconnected we can send an emergency responder to help or investigate. The second question asked is "What is your emergency'" This will help us make a decision of what emergency responders to send to your location.

Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms experienced by a person with a medical emergency.

Remember, the questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. Be prepared to follow any instructions the emergency tele-communicator gives you. Our personnel are trained to help in an emergency until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking, needs basic first aid or CPR.

Do not become upset that it is "taking too long" or that "they are asking too many questions." Remember, while one dispatcher is talking to you on the phone, another dispatcher is passing on your information to the appropriate emergency responder.

The following are a few examples of emergency situations when you should immediately call 911: when you see fire or smoke; crime - especially if in progress; car crash - especially if someone is injured; medical emergency - such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing; experiencing an allergic reaction; having chest pain; having uncontrollable bleeding; or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

The following are a few examples of non-emergency situations when you should call the Central Dispatch business line (912-767-2822): inquiring about road conditions; checking on power, phone or cable outages; paying for citations; status of school closings, asking for directions; seeking advice on legal matters; barking dogs, cat in a tree or non-threatening animal complaints; reporting you are locked out of a home or vehicle, unless a child is involved.

Important: If you're not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, officials recommend calling 911 and letting the call-taker determine whether you need emergency help.

Finally, do not hang up until the Emergency tele-communicator instructs you to.
If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, do not hang up-that could make 911 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.