First first responders: Genesee County 911 dispatchers field 430,000 calls for help

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FLINT (WJRT) (4/15/2019) - Their voices calm you down, give you guidance and get the help you need to you.

Genesee County's 9-1-1 dispatchers take 430,000 calls a year, that's 6,000 per dispatcher.

"You know, you go from someone being shot and then not breathing, to the child caller telling you his mom is, you know, having a medical emergency and having to calm him down or get the information out of the child is you know, is difficult," Dispatcher Zachary Watt explained.

It's a high-stress job that they work for 12 hours straight; but, you wouldn't know it by the way the dispatchers speak with each caller

"You know, when someone calls 9-1-1, they want police right now a lot of times. And although we want to be able to do that, we can only do what our resources allow us to do," Watt said.

He said that's the most challenging part -- getting the community to understand how they operate.

"They're paying for that response, so we try to do that we can. Although we can't get someone there essentially right now, right away, we do the best we can to get help as it's needed, when it's needed," he explained.

And with the high volume of calls they receive, Watt said they can't always answer right away.

"It might take us just a minute longer, if we're swamped and busy; but don't call and hang up, or you know, if you're hesitant to call, no emergency is no emergency," he said.

Because they're the first first responders for some of the most violent crimes, Watt added they're given breaks every two hours and allowed to step away when they need to.

"There's a lot that goes on when we're on the phone that nobody knows about," he said.

Which is why Watt said a week dedicated to honoring their hard work means a lot.

"I didn't get this into job for that at all. I don't think anyone else did in here either. We like to serve the community, help others, that's what we do. So in order to be appreciated or have people do things like that for us, it's pretty humbling," he said.

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