KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — They are the first voices you hear in a time of need. The crew of Knox County 911’s job is to be prepared for the unexpected.

“I’ve been here for officer-involved shootings, officer-involved car crashes, baby deaths, house fires when people have lost everything, bridge jumpers. We’ve been here for it all.”

Alecia Wilson is a 26-year veteran with Knox County Emergency Communication. She and 17-year vet Joshua Guinn will tell you, that every day on the job can bring the unexpected.

“There’s really no prep for it,” Guinn said, “Because you really have no clue in what you’re going to get.”

“You can’t be a know it all. We learn something new every day,” adds Wilson, “You answer the phone and all you get is a scream!”

That’s why, at any moment, from crews with the call center to dispatch, time can be of the essence.

“Everybody has to work together as a team,” says Guinn. “From the call taker to the dispatch to the field unit. If there’s not the right information in there then it could turn disastrous.”

Dispatchers will tell you that taking the information, processing it and then passing it on to crews in the field is key. But to do it, and do it well, takes an extra set of skills according to Guinn.

“You have to stay calm. You have to have a monotone voice in a sense.” A feeling echoed by Wilson. “You can’t be desensitized to it, but you have to have your emotions in check to get them some help.”

More Behind the Badge

The ability to stay cool under pressure while taking your calls, while you are having one of the worst days of your life is why many consider the crew of Knox County 911 heroes.

“It’s not a hard job, but it can be a hard job. It’s all in how you do the job,” says Wilson. “We always say, you don’t have to be crazy to work here. We’ll train you!”