911 dispatchers recognized as ‘first line of defense’ for Public Safety ​Telecommunicators Week

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — 911 dispatchers are the first line of contact during an emergency. It is their job to learn details and send the appropriate first responders to the scene.

Dispatchers in Rockford recently underwent specialized training when speaking to victims who have been strangled.

According to 911 Division Administrator Todd Stockburger, around 50% of calls made to dispatchers are domestic violence-related.

From 2017 to 2019, about 47% of Rockford and Winnebago County domestic violence survivors reported being choked or strangled.

Throughout the month of March, all 40 911 dispatchers in Rockford’s 911 Center received specialized training from the Strangulation Task Force. It’s a joint effort between the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking prevention and the 17th Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Court.

“With strangulation, there are so many internal injuries going on that we can’t see that death can come unexpectedly really days after the attack,” explained Jennifer Cacciapaglia, the manager for Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention.

Dispatchers were trained to ask specific questions that allow them to better guide survivors and provide them the assistance they need.

“I think anything we can do to align ourselves throughout this community to give a survivor a better chance of getting services and getting help whether it’s police, fire, other intervention services through domestic-related organizations we need to do that,” Stockburger explained.

Cacciapaglia says this is just one way to tackle Rockford’s domestic violence problem.

“911 is really that first line of defense to start screening for it to start asking the questions so that when our first responders do arrive on scene they have the right information to proceed in a quick, efficient, impactful way,” she added.

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