National Telecommunications Week

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It's the voice on the other end of the phone there to comfort, reassure and save lives.

They're on the front lines behind the scenes everyday and from April 14th to 20th we recognize them for their heroic work during National Telecommunications Week.

"We're the first, basically line of defense for people," says Randy Shepherd, a dispatcher with Wood County 9-1-1. "You know, we have EMS, firefighters and police officers but they wouldn't be able to help people unless we were there to answer the phones,"

Wood County 9-1-1 answered 170,000 calls in 2012 and averages a call every three minutes, so there's never a dull moment.

"There's times that, you know, it may be slow, which those are few and far between," Shepherd says. "When it gets busy, like a car wreck on Murdoch Avenue at rush hour; everybody has a cellphone, they call 9-1-1 and you know, it gets very hectic at times."

In 1991, U.S. Congress established the second full week in April as a time to recognize these hero dispatchers.

"This gives us an opportunity to respect those that are behind the scenes in public safety," says Director Randy Lowe.

The directors are going to serve the dispatchers lunch and dinner later in the week to cover all four shifts while they're working.

"Because a lot of times, even though they work 12-hour shifts, they don't actually get lunch or dinner breaks to where they could go and sit and enjoy a nice meal," Lowe says.

It takes a unique kind of individual to be a 9-1-1 dispatcher.

"It it is a real calling, pardon the pun -- to do this job and it is a career, and we are very fortunate here at Wood County 9-1-1 to have one of the lowest turnover rates in the nation," Lowe says.

On a daily basis, they dispatch police, fire and ambulance services for Wood and Wirt counties.

"We're there for the people whenever they need us," Shepherd says. "We get help on the way as quickly as we can and it's always nice to get some recommendation or a thank you."

It's a great week to take a moment to thank our 9-1-1 dispatchers, they certainly deserve the appreciation.

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