A&E show about Tampa first responders premieres

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When people in Tampa close their eyes, first responders have theirs wide open.

Tampa is front and center in a nationally-televised reality series. The new season of "Nightwatch" premieres Thursday night on A&E. And, the city's first responders are giving viewers an up-close and personal look at the life-saving and crime-fighting work they do every day.

"When people go to sleep, they have no idea what goes on at night and what were are up against," said Tampa police officer Roni Carithers.

For five months, a camera crew spent long nights in the city of Tampa. What you'll see in these episodes are real calls for help, real injuries and real pursuits.

"It's a lot more dangerous at night," said Tampa Police Cpl. Robb Fannin. "The main goal for all of us is to do a great job but to go home to our families."

"Nightwatch" follows 911 calls from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. It highlights the fast-paced, stressful, dangerous and rewarding work done after dark.

"There's not a lot of sleep. There's a lot of work involved," said Lt. Rush Roberts of Tampa Fire Rescue. "Just getting people back and forth to the hospital, helping them, talking to them."

"Your average citizens are not walking the street at night," said Carithers. "So, we are dealing with the unknown. A lot of times, we don't know what we are getting into and it could be dangerous."

Wednesday night, Tampa Theatre hosted a sneak peek of the first episode. The first responders came together like one big family, laughing and cheering when they saw each other on the big screen.

"They put their lives on the line every night. Every call, every traffic stop," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "This is the best of the best. These are the folks that do jobs we can't do for ourselves."

"We are here to help people. It is our job, but we enjoy it," said Officer Bethany Walworth.

To thousands of fans, "Nightwatch" is a reality series. To Tampa's first responders, it's just reality.

"For us to be able to portray our city is a very big deal to us and it's something we all come to work to do anyway," said Lt. Billy Mayville of Tampa Fire Rescue.