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Honoring 911 operators: The invisible heroes

911 operators say they've had to change the way they do things to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.
Madison County 911 CEO said dispatch workers are "invisible heroes" because many forget about the people behind the scenes. (WZDX)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WZDX) — Many people have taken time to honor those on the front lines during this pandemic, but we can't forget about those behind the scenes.

If you drive by the Huntsville Madison County 911 Center, you'll see signs placed in front of the building. They're recognizing the dedication of 911 dispatchers.

"Our people are kind of invisible, but nothing can happen until that information from the 911 call or the non-emergency call is relayed to that responder in the field," said Ernie Blair, CEO of Huntsville Madison County 911.

Mary Gomes has been a 911 operator for 15 years. She said it's a hard job constantly listening to others in a panic.

"It's amazing when you hear them on the telephone, talking to the public, the compassion they have," Blair said.

Gomes said the kinds of calls they get now are different than before the pandemic and so are they questions they have to ask.

"This is absolutely unheard of for us to have to deal with at this time," Gomes said. "There are different situations that we're able to handle quickly once we get that information, and we're adaptable, so that's great."

Without them, first responders couldn't do their jobs.

"They're that calm voice on the end of the line when we have something bad happen or we have somebody call at their worst moment," said Lt. Michael Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department. "Those are the guys and gals that keep us moving and also help protect the citizens as well."

You can't forget about the technical crews. They work behind the scenes, making sure everything is set up and operating properly.

In addition to nurses, police officers and other first responders, be sure to thank the invisible heroes for all of their hard work.