THUNDER BAY – Healthbeat – If you’ve ever called 911, chances are you haven’t paid much attention to the person on the other end of the line. You were likely too distraught over circumstances to really pay much attention.
Luckily, the person guiding your call was a highly skilled Communications Operator, working out of one of five communications centres in the province. Operators are definitely behind-the-scenes players, but they provide critical services as part of the Ontario Provincial Police. As such, they were recently celebrated in April during National Public Safety Communicators Week.
OPP Communications Team Hats Welcomed
“Our communicators are the first point of contact for the public needing assistance and they play an essential role in the management of the emergency response system. We want the public to have an appreciation of the vital services we provide and how we work with our emergency service partners to provide these essential services,” says Inspector Berlinquette, Commander of the Thunder Bay Provincial Communication Centre.
As part of the celebrations, local Operators took it upon themselves to provide a heart-warming donation to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Over the past several months, staff knitted and crocheted a total of 84 beautiful hats to provide to newborn infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), as well as to chemotherapy patients in the Health Sciences Centre.
“It all started as a simple conversation between a couple of us,” explained Deb Muller, Communications Operator. “We’re always looking for fun things to do together as a team, and I think babies were on our mind since quite a few families had babies born recently.”
The project was really brought to life through the T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) group of employees that support and encourage a healthy work environment.
“We spend a lot of time together at the centre,” said Muller. “In fact, we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our own families. So we look for opportunities to do things together that contribute to a positive morale. Many of our calls are very serious in nature and it’s important that we create conditions where we laugh and treat each other with respect.”
As a happy coincidence, the timing of the project coincided with the huge closing sale at Zellers Intercity. “I got a fantastic deal when I bought all the yarn,” laughed Shanalee Fillier, Communications Operator. “Once we had the yarn in our hands, each hat took about an hour to make, although those with more detail took a little longer.”
The hats were accepted by Amy Silvaggio, Special Events Officer, from the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. “They are just gorgeous and so cute!” she exclaimed. “We’re very thankful to the Communications Operators who spent many hours making these. They will be well received in our NICU where, last year, 261 babies needed the specialized care provided in the Unit.”
As Muller said, “We’re proud of the work we do as Communications Operators because we know we are making a difference to both public and officer safety. Giving these hats to the Health Sciences Centre is just an extension of our commitment to our community.”