JOPLIN, Mo. — This week we honor those “first” first responders who dedicate their lives to public safety within our communities.

“They’re not seen often, so it’s our chance to get to really recognize them and show how important they are in the public safety chain,” said Cheryl Konarski, Public Safety Communications Manager.

It’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week — a time to celebrate those who answer our calls for help.

Not only do the 9-1-1 dispatchers answer the community’s calls, they are also the ones who keep our firefighters, police officers, and medical personnel safe.

“We’re known as the “first” first responders, so things don’t happen unless we get a phone call or an officer asks us to do something. Just acknowledging how important they are and they are a vital part of the response. If we don’t process the phone call, we don’t get the responders out there, then people are not taken care of,” said Konarski.

According to public safety communications manager, Cheryl Konarski, dispatchers are usually a voice you hear on the phone but their role goes beyond that.

“We obviously take 9-1-1 and administrative phone calls, but there’s a lot of proactive things that the officers do and the firefighters. Car stops, pedestrian checks, all those kinds of things we assist them with that. We do a lot of investigative work for them. We’re out there looking for people, trying to find addresses, phone numbers, warrants, all those kinds of things,” said Konarski.

Area responders will be honoring the dispatchers with food and games to help try and show appreciation for their hard work throughout the rest of the week.

“We have gifts, we’ve got door prizes. Every day we’re doing something just to show our appreciation. They don’t know anything about what’s coming, so it’s kind of on the hush-hush, other than the meals but they know things are planned, so it’s just a lot of fun,” said Konarski.