911 dispatchers: there when you need them the most

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - While many of us are enjoying time with our family and friends this holiday season, one group of people will be hard at work just in case something goes wrong.

They are the true first responders.

"We answer calls, 911 calls for service for dispatch, fire, EMS, and police for emergency situations," Walton County Sheriff's Office Communication Training Officer, Rodger McLaney said.

When you call 911, someone will always pick up, and no matter what time of year it is, even during the holidays.

"It's just part of the job. You take this job on, it's 24/7, it never stops. And you know that you'll have to work some holidays," WCSO Lead Communications Officer, Rhonda Roberson said.

This means they're sometimes missing important moments with their families to make sure you and yours get help during any kind of emergency.

"Sometimes we miss ball games and Christmas and holidays but it's worth it in the end," said McLaney.

Answering calls during peoples' most vulnerable time, these unseen first responders play a critical role during an emergency.

"We are first, first responders," McLaney said. "We help people on scene, give CPR instructions, and help them help their loved ones until emergency crews can get there."

Responding to anything from fires to medical calls and criminal reports, dispatchers are trained to help keep callers calm during emergency situations.

"It's very emotional. You have to just sort of step away from it and not be in the moment with them and just get their information," Roberson said.

"People need help and they want help fast. They want you there as soon as they call, they want somebody showing up to help them in their situation," McLaney added.

So while you're enjoying your holiday weekend, don't forget there's someone out there not spending time with their family, just to make sure you stay safe and secure this Christmas.

"It makes me feel good that I can help them and calm them down and let them know somebody is there with them and they're not alone," Roberson said.

Walton County has 11 dispatchers who work out of the Sheriff's Office. They handle calls for the Sheriff's Office, Fire Rescue, and EMS.