Amy Doty is a 911 dispatcher of almost 25 years.

Even after all that time, calls that come in can still be unpredictable.

"When we answer that phone, we never know if somebody's going to be screaming or if it's just gonna be a hang up call, or a child playing on the phone," said Doty, a public safety senior dispatcher. "We don’t know what it's gonna be."

What You Need To Know

  • National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week was started in 1981 in California

  • It's held annually on the second week of April to celebrate people in the field and their service and dedication to saving lives

  • Greg Scmid, director of operations for the Orange County 911 Center, said his team is able to dispatch average calls within a minute; within 15 to 20 seconds for more serious calls

It’s a thankless job, and yet Doty loves coming to work every day.

"Like most of us here, we do love helping people. We love working with the public and saving lives," said Doty.

As part of National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, Doty was reflecting on what it means to be a first responder.

"We're technically the first, first responder. We hear what's going on before anyone sees what's going on. So we can hear the crisis, we can hear the worst day of somebody's life as soon as we pick up the phone," said Doty.

Greg Schmid started at the Orange County 911 Center as a dispatcher 18 years ago. Now, he’s director of operations and oversees the entire team of dispatchers for Orange County.​

He knows how hard the job can be, and he said sleep and time to decompress are critical.

"It's very stressful. It's long hours, it's working holidays, working overnight 24 hours a day, 365. It does take its toll," said Schmid.

"Our first priority is finishing the call and helping the person on the phone," said Doty. "We're able to take a break, were able to talk to our peers, were able to go off the floor, go outside, catch a breath of fresh air."

This week, the team of dispatchers is getting the appreciation they deserve with catered lunches and prizes. They even get to dress down for a week.

"We don’t get very many 'thank yous,' we don’t hear the ending of calls, so to be recognized one week out of the year, having food come in," said Doty. "It's nice to be recognized."