April 8-11 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.  Local33’s Gerron Jordan went behind the scenes with East Baton Rouge Parish dispatchers to learn more about the job. 

Jeremy Torres has worked emergency services for more than two decades. For the last 13 or so years, he’s worked as a dispatcher with Baton Rouge EMS. 

“When you put on this uniform, when you put on this badge it means a little bit more” Torres said.

That’s because long before the firefighters, police or even medics arrive on scene, dispatchers like Jeremy have already started emergency response. In man cases, dispatchers meet and help walk people through some of the worst moments of their lives. 

Someone screaming that you just can’t reach, someone that really needs help that doesn’t know where they are and you have to find them” explained Torres.  “someone that’s found a loved one passed away or in some kind of dangerous situation and you have to talk them through it, sometimes you deliver a baby- you never know what you’re going to get” he siad. 

On average, 39,000 calls come into the EBR EMS Command Center each month.  That’s just about 1,300 calls every day.  It seems like a lot for a small staff of dispatchers working 12 hour shifts at a time, but they see it as 1,300 times a day to make an impact. 

“I talk to 200-250 people a day and I have an opportunity to make some kind of difference in their life and that’s what keeps me coming back” said Torres. 

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week; a time to thank and recognize the thousands of telecommunicators across the country who, like Jeremy, dedicate their lives to keeping the public safe. 

This is not a job when you can go and have a bad day, it’s a job that’s not very forgiving, when you come in here you have to be on your game no matter what you do and it causes you to push yourself a little bit to the edge every day” said Torres.

Over his career, Torres has been recognized as the Paramedic of the Year, Prison Medical Technician of the Year and Communications Officer of the Year.