Each year, the second full week of April is recognized, in the world of public safety, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Each year, the second full week of April is recognized, in the world of public safety, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Police, fire and medical telecommunicators (more commonly known as "dispatchers") both nationally and internationally, are recognized for their role as the true first responders.

The idea was originally conceived by an employee of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in California in 1981.

In the mid-1980s, the idea caught the attention of the members of the Virginia and North Carolina chapters of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials.

Finally, in the early 1990s, APCO's national chapter presented a request to Congress for a formal proclamation.

Until independent phone numbers became more common in the 1950s, all calls for police, fire and medical were received by the local operator who would then patch the caller through to the correct department. Many of the first police and fire dispatchers were police officers and firefighters themselves.

As the population grew in cities and towns across the country, so too did the need for more personnel to handle calls for service.

It's safe to say that after the implementation of 9-1-1 in 1968, the need for dispatchers greatly increased, and has been increasing ever since.

The best dispatchers are those who are committed to being of service to their community and their department.

It's important for a dispatcher to offer compassionate help to callers, but equally important to be assertive when obtaining information needed to keep both the caller and the responding officers safe.

Over time, the job will take an emotional toll.

We do not easily forget the heartbreaking calls we receive; the wife who comes home from work to discover her husband has passed away, the mother whose son has taken his life, or the witness reporting a fatal car crash, to name a few.

These calls will stay with us for days or weeks. Some calls we never forget.

Along with the public, we also provide a service to our officers who become like family to us.

An officer calling for help over the radio will shake even the most seasoned dispatcher to his or her core.

Thankfully, there is a balance. There are many callers who are kind, and sometimes funny, and who bring much needed levity to our day.

Those of us who make this job a career do so because we're drawn to a life of service, and we feel we can make a difference.

The Protect & Serve column was submitted by the Pickerington Police Department's communications technicians.