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National First Responders Day: BFD achieves fulfillment through serving, protecting others | News

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When I was first approached by The Bakersfield Californian about writing an article on why National First Responders Day is important, I hesitated. After all, most people who embark on a career as a first responder, and more specifically for me, in the fire service, do so not for the recognition, accolades or honor, but for the intangible reward: achieving fulfillment through serving and protecting others. Nevertheless, now that I am no longer on the “front lines” and likely one of the last in the Bakersfield Fire Department to be summoned to an incident, I feel more at ease to comment on the matter but will begin by providing some context.

In a literal sense, the BFD’s truest first responders are our fire dispatchers. Cloaked behind walls on Panorama Drive and guarded from view, these members are the vital link between Fire and EMS resources and the residents, business owners and visitors of this community. Because they operate from afar, one could easily overlook their enormous contribution to public safety; but we shouldn’t. Dispatchers operate in a fast-paced and stressful environment that demands attention to detail and multitasking skills that are second to none. Dispatchers receive caller information, dispatch resources, communicate with the responding crews, and update the incident information by keyboard into a database, all the while providing life-saving instructions to the callers over the phone. Although not physically present, dispatchers can make the difference between life and death by providing critical information to callers, including how to perform CPR or instructions on controlling bleeding and childbirth.

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