A week to recognize the first line of help - 911 dispatchers

By Jillian Marshall

April 16, 2014 Updated Apr 17, 2014 at 8:26 AM EST

Unadilla, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When they get to work, they punch the clock and log on, just like most people, but this job comes with life-saving responsibility each and every day.

This week of April is the National Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week.

"They are really the first line when somebody calls for help. Without the dispatchers, frankly, it would be difficult to get people out to help people," said Delaware County Director of Emergency Services Steve Hood.

Dispatchers are staffed 24/7 every day of the year, including holidays, and are continually training throughout their careers.

Emergency dispatchers are often considered the silent or unseen partners in law enforcement.

"So many times it seems like they do get forgotten, only because they're behind the scenes," Hood said.

In Delaware County, dispatchers have added responsibility.

"It is very unique, we're the only county in the state that has the state police dispatch our fire, EMS and police agencies for us," Hood said.

Michael Lewis, from the town of Union, has worked for New York State Police in Delaware County as a dispatcher for 10 years. He said dispatchers have their own experiences that make their jobs worthwhile.

For him, it's remembering the times he was responsible for saving lives.

"One was I saved a four day old who was choking by talking the mother and the grandmother through rescue breathing," Lewis said.

Lewis said dispatchers rarely find out what happens to the callers they talk to, but that it is rewarding to hear they helped someone.

"It's all just a part of the job," he added.

Dispatchers want to remind everyone to only call 911 if it is an emergency, and when you call try to stay as calm as possible and answer all the questions the dispatchers have.

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