PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The new FOX television show 911 that airs Wednesday nights on FOX 10 illustrates the demands on first-responder, as well as the life-or-death situations they can encounter. A key role in the show is played by a 911 dispatcher, who is often the first person people count on, during one of the worst days of their lives.
As unbelievable as some of the calls may seem on the television drama, they are all based on real emergencies, and real emergencies are played out at the Phoenix Fire Department Regional Dispatch Center.
Debbie Osekowsky has worked at the center for a quarter of the century. She says it's an exciting and rewarding job, never knowing who is going to be on the other end of the line, or what help they need in what can be life-or-death situations.
"You're always kind of at a heightened level of stress, because you never know what that next call is going to be, so you're kind of always ramped up a little bit," said Osekowsky.
The dispatchers in the center provide 911 support for 27 different fire departments around Maricopa County, making sure they get first responders to people who need help in a hurry, and trying to get as much information as possible in a short amount of time, from callers who are often panicked.
"Just to keep talking very slowly, lowering the voice, repetitive questioning until you get the answer," said Osekowsky.
The new FOX show 911 spotlights the daily challenges of the job, and Osekowsky says it's pretty accurate.
"I mean, you don't think about how a 911 operator has a life away from here," said Osekowsky.
As with most TV dramas, however, Osekowsky says Hollywood has taken some liberties.
"We would never be able to say some of the things that I've heard [the characters] say on the show," said Osekowsky. "We don't do that. We don't hang up on people and we don't tell people off!"
Even though it can be chaotic, heart-wrenching and stressful, Osekowsky says the show may get people interested in the career that helps save lives everyday.
"You know you get to work independently, and with a team, and you always know what's going on," said Osekowsky.