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Recognizing those behind the scenes: dispatchers


dani palmer / Petersburg Pilot

Dispatcher Robert "Doc" Lopez talks with Police Chief Kelly Swihart during one of his shifts last week. Lopez is one of six dispatchers the Petersburg Police Department has.

Last week was National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, recognizing the work of the dispatchers behind the scenes.

"They really are kind of the heart of the department," Petersburg Police Chief Kelly Swihart said. "We could not function without them."

Dispatchers prepare emergency responders for the situations they're about to head into, and do what they can over the phone to keep callers calm. Sometimes they have to provide instructions like how to do CPR.

Working with such sensitive information, Robert "Doc" Lopez, who's been a dispatcher for 21 years, said they "do everything we can...

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