JACKSONVILLE, NC — You don’t see these heroes when making 911 calls, but they facilitate the first steps in helping those most in need and keeping callers calm.

And now through April 16 emergency dispatchers are honored during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Ray Silance, Onslow County 911 Division Chief, said county commissioners awarded them with proclamations and highlighted some of their achievements.

Last year alone local dispatchers answered over 180,000 calls.

“Every time that phone rings and you answer the phone,” Silance said. “You don’t know what you’re getting on the other end of the line. And with the training that we have with the protocols we have in place, we save lives, we deliver babies, we help people with the worst day of their life.”

The week was first established in 1981 as a local event in Contra Costa County, Calif. It became a national celebration in 1994.