While Scotland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Davis signed proclamations recognizing telecommunicators and emergency services personnel earlier this week, few were on hand to witness the event. Emergency care personnel were occupied responding to three separate 911 calls in the county, and unable to attend the proclamation signing held in their honor.
“We had an accident on Highway 79 that required two ambulances because there were five patients. The patients weren’t injured badly, but they all needed to be transported,” said county emergency management director Roylin Hammond of the emergency crew’s conspicuous absence from the signing.
“We had one ambulance transporting a patient from a local health care facility to Scotland Memorial Hospital and another ambulance enroute to Gibson to tend to someone about to give birth in a vehicle,” Hammond added.
The week of May 8-14 was proclaimed “Telecommunicators Week” by Davis while May 20-26 was proclaimed “Emergency Services Responders Week.”
Davis said the fact that ambulances were on the road responding to emergency situations underscored the importance of the telecommunicators and emergency responders to the community.
“They should be recognized and thanked not just one week out of the year but every day for the critical service they provide,” Davis said.
“Some days EMS responds to one or two calls and sometimes EMS answers three at a time. Three calls at a time are happening more frequently,” said Hammond.
Hammond attributed the spike in emergency calls to responding to the needs of a growing old-aged population and to increased cell phone usage.
Four county telecommunicators work 12-hour shifts and part-time telecommunicators fill in when people are sick or when there is an overabundance of calls.
“They do an excellent job. The 911 equipment has become more technical. Telecommunicators monitor more and more things like the weather and several radio frequencies. They answer phones for all the calls that come in whether it’s 911 or calls on the administrative line,” said Hammond.
Hammond said for 911 calls alone, telecommunicators handle about 50 calls a day, although not all of them are emergencies. They transfer calls to specific agencies that are requested — the Sheriff’s Office, Laurinburg Police Department and in some cases the Fire Department.
“On average EMS responds to about 12 calls a day. Some days we run 26 calls, some days we run four,” said Hammond. “Telecommunicators handle all that. They are the vital link between the citizens and the emergency responder regardless of what kind of emergency response needs to be there. Their job gets more complicated every day as technology changes.”