Call of Duty
Taking a call can bring such fear;
a yell, a scream, a gasp of one’s breath.
The caller’s eyes shrink-wrapped with a tear,
as she calls for a loved one near death.
You have done all you can behind a phone,
you comfort, listen and do what is best.
The time has come you hear that moan;
it is time for the loved one to rest.
The sirens yell over the cries,
this is my job; why I am here.
I listen as a loved one dies,
taking a call can bring such fear.
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By Ricardo — 6 years ago
The past week has been a busy one. I’ve been doing the usual with work, school and family but I also had the chance to attend the annual NENA conference in Lansing, MI. NENA is the National Emergency Number Association. Those within the world of public safety gather each year for Michigan’s chapter of NENA to share ideas, visit with vendors and attend helpful workshops. This was my first conference. Out of the three-day event I was able to attend on two different days. It felt good to sit among my co-workers and peers. The first day began with motivational speakers from our line of work. The stories were great but the best part of the morning was honoring one of our own from St. Joseph County Central Dispatch. This veteran of 9-1-1 was honored that morning for her 17 years of service in public safety. The emotion could be felt throughout the room as she made her way to the front to accept her award. Recently she has been battling cancer but despite her illness she displayed a smile and attitude that lit the room with joy. She received a standing ovation. Not one person sat until she made her way back to her seat. I felt honored to have been present during her moment of recognition.
The day went on with workshops but it wasn’t until the last day of the conference that I was fully engaged. Two specific workshops brought forth new ideas and understanding between different organizations. The first was entitled Media – Public Safety Relationship, given by Ashley Wioskowski of WWMT News Channel 3. First off, I have to applaud her for giving this talk. She was alone in a room full of public safety workers and when it comes to the media we don’t always mesh. Picture the feud between the police agencies in the movie Super Troopers. Can you picture it? Well, it’s not exactly like that but you get the picture. If you think about it, it’s rather sad. We have a similar goal when it comes to the public and that’s really what Wioskowski was talking about. She wanted to help us understand her side and explained that we need to find a way to bridge the gap. The workshop helped me understand the media side and although Wioskowski announced to the room that she was nervous, she was very professional and I was impressed.
Dee Wachele and her colleagues of “911 The Number To Know“, a national education campaign out of Indiana, presented the following workshop. It was done in two parts and the topic of discussion was based on public education of 9-1-1. This was very interesting because my training coordinator and I had recently spoken about this. You would be amazed at how many people have no idea what we actually do in dispatch or what to do when an emergency occurs. Now, as much as I want to explain everything that was said during this workshop, I’m going to wait. My reason for waiting is because I want to compare your answers with what I know to the next question I’m going to ask. So…if you were given the opportunity to attend a 9-1-1 Public Education workshop, what would you like to learn? It might sound like a stupid question but not many schools out there teach our children about 9-1-1. There might even be some parts of 9-1-1 that you yourself are unaware of. Make sure to comment on this post so we can generate some discussion. Thank you very much to Michigan’s chapter of NENA for holding this conference once again. A big thanks also goes out to Dee Wachele, and Ashley Wioskowski for the excellent workshops and to Lois of St. Joseph County Central Dispatch. You’re strength, warm smile, and years of service made me proud to do what I do every day.
(Below is a little something from Longmont, CO. to get the juices flowing on 9-1-1 Ed.)Post Views: 100
By Ricardo — 4 years ago
Hello everyone! Within the Trenches is back with episode 52 featuring Jeff, the Director of Monroe County Central Dispatch and 1st Vice President for Indiana NENA. The show is recording on location from the Marriott East in Indianapolis, Indiana for the annual Indiana NENA conference. In this episode Jeff shares his dispatch experience, the importance of continuing education, what the general public knows or doesn’t know about 9-1-1 and some advice to new and seasoned dispatchers. This is just one of several episodes coming up this week from the Indiana NENA conference so stay tuned for more.
Episode topics –
Post Views: 104
- Rising through the ranks
- Memorable dispatch moments
- Continuing education through NENA
By Ricardo — 3 years ago
With the events in the news lately I’ve been taking a long look at what I do, and why I do it. Dispatching wasn’t my first choice, but helping people was. I spent 8 years as a firefighter. I’ve seen trauma, I’ve seen destruction, and I’ve seen death. None of it was easy, but none of it was as difficult as being a dispatcher.
I’m burnt. I feel like that last hamburger on the tray at the cookout that no one will touch and everyone turns their nose up at. There aren’t enough pickles or mustard in the world to cover up the crispy black edges. I wonder, how did I get this way? Is there any way back out? Obviously there are others like me. It could have easily been me that got frustrated or felt insulted and hung up. We don’t know the whole story. What kind of call happened before that? It doesn’t matter right? We have to be strong. We have to push the things we hear to the back of our minds so we can deal with the next person’s emergency, right?
I’ve been on the phone when a baby has taken its first breath. I’ve been on the phone when a person has taken their last. I’ve heard everything in between. Gunshots. Screams. Cries. Whispers. I’ve had days when I’ve felt like I’ve saved everyone. More often than not I go home thinking that I didn’t save or help anyone. That’s the feeling that destroys me.
I’m scared, and hurt, right alongside the people that call. I can’t see what is happening but I can hear it, and I can feel it. Sometimes those feelings follow me home. The sounds of a 10 year old boy trying not to cry while his mom was battered by her boyfriend still haunt me. He has more courage than all the policemen and fireman I know. He doesn’t know it but he is the bravest person I’ve ever spoken to.
I hold my breath. I hold it every time an officer or firefighter doesn’t answer the radio. I hold my breath during every pursuit. Every house that is cleared. Every traffic stop. Every time an evacuation is ordered in a structure fire. Every PAR count. Every mayday. It’s a wonder I ever breathe at all on the job. I’m always alert, always waiting, always dreading that next phone call or mic click, it might be someone’s last.
Please have patience with me. I may sound rude, but I don’t mean it. Yes, I want that dog to quit barking as much as you do. I want that party to quiet down too. That phone call before yours though, was a mother that just lost their only child. It was a fatal car accident involving the quarterback and the homecoming queen. It was shots fired at a community gathering in the park. It was one of our own involved in a tragedy. I didn’t have time to gather my thoughts or my composure before you called and I’m still trying to process what just happened. I know you don’t care, it didn’t happen to you, you didn’t know them. I didn’t either, but I was there.Post Views: 261