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El Paso 911 dispatchers say ABC’s ‘Emergency Call’ shows how anything can happen in their job

911 Police Dispatch
A 911 police dispatcher on the job.

EL PASO, Texas-- ABC TV's new unscripted series 'Emergency Call' gives viewers an inside look at the first crucial minutes of emergencies through the eyes of 911 call takers across America.

But is what we see on the TV screen an accurate portrayal of the job?

El Pasoans Vanessa Urquidi and Daniel Terrazas have been 911 dispatchers for more than three years.

“I think I do agree that most people cannot be 911 operators because it's hectic and a lot of multi-tasking,” said Terrazas.

They say the new reality show, 'Emergency Call' shows the stress that they deal with everyday.

“There’s times where you drive home and are in complete silence and you can’t help but cry. You can’t help but feel a connection,” said Urquidi.

“I prep myself. Mentally I get ready for this job. I know any day could be a hectic day so I don’t take any day lightly. A certain call can come in normal and turn into a crazy situation, so I’m always ready,” said Terrazas.

The series premiere, which aired Sept. 28, showed a female dispatcher struggling to hold back tears while helping a father locate his missing daughter. A scene that was all too familiar for Urquidi.

“It was a call involving a young child, so that one is gonna be really stuck with me, but that one also made me want do this job more and made me want to help people,” said Urquidi.

But of the thousands of calls both dispatchers have had to take, the one they won’t forget happened the morning of Aug. 3, 2019, when the Walmart mass shooting occured.

“That’s probably one of the craziest calls that I’ve ever been a part of and I’ll always remember,” said Terrazas, "It was chaos, but I think we did really well as a team because we had never experienced anything like that.”

“The energy was just really different you could just see it in their face," said Urquidi, "When I walked in there were over 100 calls waiting. I remember there were 129 missed calls and the phone just wouldn’t stop.”

Although the job of a 911 dispatcher is stressful, for Urquidi and Terrazas, knowing their job is making a difference in the lives of other is why they continue to show up to work everyday.

“Most of the calls we get, some of the people are having the worst day of their life and I like to know we're giving them the tools they needed to help," said Terrazas."

"When you hear the outcome of the call and you hear that you helped make a little difference in that person’s life, it's a huge relief," said Urquidi.

'Emergency Call' airs Monday nights on ABC-7.

Crime / El Paso / News / Top Stories / Video

Iris Lopez

Iris Lopez is a weathercaster and reporter for ABC-7.



  1. States, including California, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia are working to designate dispatchers as first responders. God bless you people for all you do.

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