Carson City's dispatch center handles 200,000 calls a year. The division's 20 employees respond to everything from barking dogs to heartbroken family members pleading for help.
"It is a stressful ... job. No one calls 911 because they are having a good day," said Karin Mracek, communications manager. "The dispatchers are also accountable for every decision, word and computer keystroke they make or don't make. They do get a lot of personal satisfaction when they do a good job, and they all are very self driven to do the best they can as well as have the desire to help people in general."
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week is April 10-16. Established in 1981 in California's Contra Costa County, the week is designed to raise awareness of the hard work and dedication of 911 call takers, dispatchers and other telecommunications staff.
"The dispatchers carry the tone for much of the public safety activity," said Sheriff Kenny Furlong. "It gets very high-energy, very fast and their calming voices helps to lower the stress in the field by consistently and calmly providing essential information. We have an excellent team."
Before help arrives, a dispatcher is the first responder.
Furlong said the training required - eight months worth before a dispatcher is allowed to go solo - is even longer than that to become a peace officer.
They must quickly and efficiently determine how to dispatch a call, while simultaneously providing information to the caller and emergency personnel. It's a stressful job that leaves little room for dwelling on a difficult call, said Furlong.
"Because of the necessity of the job and the few people out there, they can't walk away and decompress; the volume of business out there necessitates they be ready to stand up full force for the next phone call," he said.
The Association of Public Safety Officials International suggests the general public can honor their dispatchers by sending thank-you notes to the Sheriff's Office.
Mracek said she does her best to make sure her team is recognized internally for their hard work, but a little extra thanks doesn't hurt.
"They are truly an amazing group of hard-working, dedicated, and talented people that I am very proud to work with," she said.