KINGSPORT, TENN. (WJHL) — The second week of April is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time to honor 911 dispatchers.

The supervisor of the Kingsport dispatch team, Teresa Hillman, highlighted the many contributions emergency dispatchers make to public safety.

“They’re the true first responders. They’re the initial ones who take the call and who gets the ball rolling,” Hillman said.

Hillman explained the dedication and sacrifice of dispatchers.

“They work 12-hour shifts, on holidays, birthdays, and every day,” Hillman said. “To do this job they have to be certified. It takes a lot of hard work.”

Dispatchers collect information in a calm manner to pass it along to the first responders in the field. Often, they are able to provide immediate lifesaving directions to the caller during emergencies and work to diffuse situations.

“They can have a major call where they have to perform CPR instructions over the phone to keep that person breathing until we get EMS on the scene,” Hillman said. “At times we’ve had to help those on the phone deliver a child before EMS has arrived.”

The Kingsport dispatchers have had to diffuse critical situations as well.

“We’ve had dispatchers diffuse hostage situations until police have arrived, it takes a professional to work these situations,” Hillman said.

President Bill Clinton signed a proclamation in 1994 officially declaring the second week in April as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.