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From the Chair: April Foolishness
Author: Paul D. Bagley
Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content
It's amazing how time flies! April 2013 marks the one-year anniversary of "From the Chair"— a featured column in 9-1-1Magazine written for the frontline 9-1-1 telecommunicator. Its author — Paul Bagley — took us on a wild ride through the ever-changing landscape of public safety emergency communications. His breezy style was frequently irreverent, often whimsical, and sometimes touching. To conclude its first year, and to usher in the next, the latest installment takes a fun look at the bewildering array of designated commemorations — including National 9-1-1 Education Month, and National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week — that are packed into April.
On April 23rd I will celebrate a year of communicating with you via this magazine. Initially I was asked to do the column monthly, but that time frame soon gave way to a request for a twice-monthly offering. I’ve pretty much split the difference and found the energy and inspiration to jam a few nouns against a few verbs every three weeks on average. April 23rd also happens to be my daughter’s birthday, so it’s relatively easy for me to remember. But April is a time for reflecting upon other important observances.
I’ve just come from my state’s annual conference and business meeting for emergency telecommunicators. The bylaws of New Hampshire Emergency Dispatchers Association (NHEDA) require the annual meeting and election of officers be held during April as this coincides with National 9-1-1 Education Month. While I applaud the brain trust in Washington, D.C. for the seemingly good-hearted attempt to recognize the oft-forgotten true first responders in any emergency – the dispatcher – that effort must first be placed into proper perspective with all the other demographic groups that are similarly recognized.
April has been designated as National Autism Awareness Month, and the countless concerns associated with autism is something with which every emergency dispatcher should be acutely aware. In direct line with this, April is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month; subjects of true concern to us in emergency telecommunications all the time.
Somewhere, though, the train fell off the rails in our national capital and a host of other observances have managed to get the Congressional seal of approval and the endorsement of the President of the United States. Did you know that April is National Records and Information Management Month? How about National Financial Capability and Financial Literacy Month? Honestly, are these necessary? It’s also National Safe Digging Month, National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, National Stress Awareness Month and National Keep America Beautiful Month – again, four issues that should be on the radar every month.
April is National Pecan Month, National Welding Month, National Lawn and Garden Month and National Primary Immunodeficiency Awareness Month. It is National Grilled Cheese Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Car Care Month and National Minority Health Month. We get to celebrate National Frog Month in April, which might explain why it has also been designated National Humor Month. According to Comedy Central’s television show “The Colbert Report,” April is also National Stand-Up Comedy month. Somewhere along the way the lunacy even crept across our national boundaries and April has now been set aside as International Guitar Month.
In addition to the month-long observances, there are weeks and days that are being recognized as important remembrances. April 17, 1937 is remembered fondly as Daffy Duck’s birthday. April 11, 1900 the US Navy took delivery of its first submarine. April 10th is National Sibling Day, because it’s important to remember your brothers and sisters at least one day each year – only-children need not observe this one. April 6th has been set aside as National Jump Over Things Day, and the 16th is National Eggs Benedict Day. Coincidentally, the 16th also serves as National Stress Awareness Day because the designation of April being National Stress Awareness Month didn’t stress the point enough.
According to Wikipedia, April is one of four months that has 30 days. It starts on the same day of the week as July every year, and as January in leap years. It ends on the same day of the week as December each year. While it’s easy for us to think of it as the beginning of a new growing season here in the northern hemisphere, it marks the end of that season and the harvest for those who reside south of the equator.
April 8th is National Zoo Day and the 9th is National Name Yourself Day. The 12th is National Big Wind Day, which presupposes that there will be sufficient wind to fly a kite but totally ignores the fact that National Fly a Kite Day is observed in June. When it comes to big winds Hawaii is ahead of the other forty-nine states by designating April as Tsunami Awareness Month. Here again, I would have thought that living on a tiny speck of volcanic ash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with nothing to shelter it from the wrath of a cataclysmic storm, every month would be tsunami awareness month. But what do I know, living here in snowy New England?
The 20th of April is National Pineapple Up-Side-Down Cake Day, which might explain why it is also National Cuckoo Day. April 1st is International Have Fun At Work Day, and the 3rd is International Don’t Go To Work Unless It’s Fun Day.
The Chief just reminded me this morning that the 24th of April is National Administrative Professionals Day, and he’s anxious to do something for our administrative assistant. May I suggest offering her pigs-in-a-blanket for lunch, since it is also – you guessed it – National Pigs-In-A-Blanket Day. Isn’t it curious that The Chief wants to remember the administrative assistant on administrative professional’s day, but not the dispatcher during National Public Safety Telecommunicators week? Oh well!
As silly as some of these observances might seem, they are undoubtedly important to someone, or else why would Congress waste its time creating them? Oh right, I forgot, the late humorist Will Rogers was right when he said he didn’t tell jokes – he just observed Congress and reported the facts. He also said that when he made a joke, people laughed, and when Congress made a joke, it was a law! Our official national government got one thing correct though: April 4th has been officially designated as National Tell a Lie Day, so politicians across the country are covered at least one day each year.
What’s important to those who sit in The Chair is that April is National 9-1-1 Education Month and that April 14th through the 20th is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (also called National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, but "Telecommunicators Week" is how it was designated by Congress back in 1991, and we kind of like that personalized designation). Now don’t expect flowers and a box of candy when you show up for your next shift; these national and international observances don’t come with a prize. Let us be happy with the fact that someone has recognized us in any manner. Personally, I like being tossed into the company of frogs, big winds, tsunamis, pigs-in-a-blanket and car care. It reinforces the notion that dispatchers are human beings and they are equal to the everyday things in life that people often take for granted; hence, the need for formal designations by Congress to recognize those things.
April 1st is when pranksters swap the contents of the sugar bowl and the salt shaker, and April 19th marks the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Regardless of any other distinction, set in between them, April is where National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week resides, and that should be considered something special. Those of us who sit in The Chair seldom get recognition for our efforts, so we should bask in the little attention that April affords us. We should also keep in mind that the true April fools are those who fail to see just how important capable emergency telecommunicators are to the ongoing security and welfare of their communities. After all, sitting in The Chair is no easy gig. Myself, I’ve always done it for money and the fame. April Fools!
For more info on National Telecommunicators Week 2013, see our story at NTW 2013.
Paul D. Bagley is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction books, a retired police officer and emergency dispatcher. He is the past president of New Hampshire Emergency Dispatchers Association, and he is editor and publisher of the association’s monthly newsletter, “The NHEDA Broadcaster.” Paul’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of his public safety employer.
"From the Chair" was conceived and developed for 9-1-1 Magazine by Michael Wallach, founder and president emeritus of 911Lifeline. 911Lifeline is a national 501(c)(3) membership association providing services for 9-1-1 telecommunicators, assistance to the media, and public education programs. For more information visit http://911lifeline.org.