AUSTIN, Texas - Holidays can be some of the busiest times for both first responders and 911 call takers. Many worked Thanksgiving, sacrificing time with their families to help respond to emergencies in the community.
911 call takers and dispatchers are the reassuring voice saying help is on its way. Regardless of what day it is, Communications Supervisor Gary Elmore said they are there for the community.
"Crime and emergencies never sleep or take a holiday so it's important to have the Communications Center running 24/7," Elmore said.
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Last year, the communications center received about 1,077,000 calls. On Thanksgiving, the department sees an uptick in calls around dinner time, everything from traffic accidents, medical emergencies and turkey fires.
"A lot of fires so far people are cooking turkeys irresponsibly almost burning down cars and houses trying to fry them," said Jacob Talkington, a 911 call taker.
According to the National Fire Protection Association in 2017 U.S. fire departments responded to about 1,600 hundred home cooking fires on Thanksgiving. Aside from fire calls, Talkington said he's answered about 4,500 pocket dials.
To celebrate Turkey Day, the team had a potluck for anyone who wasn't able to spend the holiday with their family.
"It’s kind of a sacrifice, not only for the people who are here but for their families,” Elmore said. “Because they don't get to spend time with them and that can be tough some years but people do it because it's a calling."
Elmore is reminding the public to drink in moderation he said might help alleviate some heated discussions at the dinner table and if you’re going to drink don’t drive.