Public Safety Telecommunicators Week honors 911 dispatchers - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Public Safety Telecommunicators Week honors 911 dispatchers

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MISSOULA -

It's National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time to thank those who take the first call in emergency situations. 

Being a dispatcher isn't an easy job. And it certainly isn't a job for everyone. In Missoula 9-1-1 dispatchers work 10 to 12 hour shifts, and many work early mornings or overnight. Regardless of the shift, they're the first, first responders every time. 

"We're the ones who take that first call, we hear everything," said Missoula 9-1-1 Call Center Manager, Sherri Odlin.  "You know, we hear a mom screaming, we hear the gunshot, we hear all of this...the disturbance in the background."

While not every call is a mom screaming or a gunshot, the dispatchers really do hear it all. Everything from a cat up a tree to a fatality on Interstate 90. 

Most of these calls have a panicked person on the other end of the line, and that's why it takes the right person to take the call. 

"People who are in a crisis don't necessarily understand what the important information is," said dispatcher Autumn Eggers. "So you have to be able to be assertive, interrupt somebody who's having the worst day of their life."

Doing all of that takes extensive training. The 24 dispatchers in the Missoula call center go though 12 weeks of training. And even the training, the job can still be challenging.

"No one calls 9-1-1 saying they're having a good day," Eggers said.

This week as dispatchers like Eggers are recognized for their hard work. It helps them stay motivated to do the job that can sometimes be overlooked.

"It's nice to be recognized for a good job they do, because there's a lot of people who can't do this type of job," said Odlin.

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