PUEBLO — This week is a time to say 'thank you' to those who help the community in stressful situations and help save lives. That's because it's National Public Safety Telecommunicators week, and KOAA News5 wants to recognize local dispatchers for their hard work.
There are 20 dispatchers who work at the Pueblo Police Department who are busy answering up to 1,000 calls every day. They work anywhere from eight to 16 hours.
Their voices are heard over the phones and scanners every day, but often times, the community never gets the chance to see them in person or say 'thank you'.
However, they still remain the community's first, first responders.
"We're the first people inside every room on every call, every call we're the first person, on that person's worst day," said Adrian Espinoza, an emergency services dispatcher. He's been in his position for four years. "The public essentially become the eyes and ears for everything, we do ask a lot of questions and a lot of details."
Kim Jeffries, the dispatch manager at the Pueblo Police Department says they help dispatch police, the city fire department, ambulances, and responders to help with emergencies.
Jeffries says while on the job, it's important to remain calm and keep others calm in high-stress situations.
"This job is high stress, it's a lot of work, dedication, and multitasking. It's important that they obtain the right information the first time so they're very focused and are able to handle a lot of stress," said Jeffries, who's held her position for a year, but has worked as a dispatcher for more than 20 years. "Our dispatchers love helping people. They're involved and dedicated to their work.
Often times, dispatchers are unsung heroes of the community, but this week is all about putting a face to the voices behind the screen.
"We appreciate the recognition. We feel like we're in the shadows, but we're working very hard diligently and getting everything taken care of as best we can," said Espinoza. "The most rewarding part is helping the community, where you live, where you stay, and where you do business."
"It's still extremely rewarding to be able to help those that are in true emergencies," said Jeffries.
The Pueblo Police Department is looking to hire more dispatchers to make a full team of 27. They're in the hiring process and will be accepting applications within the next month. Those who are hired go through a rigorous training process, which takes six to 12 months.