Good evening everyone and welcome to episode 22 of Within the Trenches. This is the last episode of the NENA conference series that were recorded in Lansing, Michigan at the Lexington Hotel. The entire week was great and I definitely learned a lot. I also gave my own presentation on how I got into the 9-1-1 profession and how I created Within the Trenches. Despite my nerves I was able to give an excellent presentation and I am looking forward to the next time I speak at a conference.
In this episode I was joined by my co-host Whitney. We had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah, Dispatch Operations Coordinator with Washtenaw County, Jennifer, a supervisor with Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority and Bob, who is the NENA Regional Director with Intrado. In the beginning of this episode Bob told us that this is the 27th year that Michigan has had this conference. This is something I never knew and it was interesting to listen to him give the history of this conference and how important it is.
We also touched on how important the profession of 9-1-1 is and how everyone in emergency services should do what he or she can to attend a NENA conference. This was truly an amazing week for my co-host, the show and myself. We are doing big things and making it happen. I want to personally thank everyone who helped me throughout the week. Most importantly I want to thank Jeri. If it wasn’t for your conversation with my assistant director I might have never applied to be a presenter. Thank you for everything! To those who I recently met and are helping to make things happen, I thank you and you will not be sorry. As always you can email the show at email@example.com and if you would like to know more about NENA, local conferences and membership please follow the link below.
NENA | Web
Episode topics –
- What NENA is all about
- How each guest got involved in emergency services
- Next Generation 9-1-1
- Early memorable calls from each guest
- The importance of attending a NENA conference
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By Ricardo — 2 years ago
Guest blog post by Shae, 9-1-1 dispatcher out of central Indiana
This smile hurts my face.
I sit around the table for an early Christmas dinner, quietly wondering if anyone has noticed that my smile isn’t real. I’m having trouble faking. Family and extended family are all talking at once and it’s sensory overload.
I excuse myself and sit in the living room with the kids, realizing I have more in common with them than anyone my age – we’re both not interested in “grown up” talk. The houses, the cars, the material goods – they talk about their good fortune and maybe brag a little. And I sit there wondering what families aren’t as fortunate as theirs.
I’m not trying to be a snob, I just don’t have things in common with them anymore. The houses, the cars, the material goods. I’ve come to despise holidays, for the runs I’ve been on and the calls I’ve taken. Years as a medic and now a dispatcher too, my life’s mission to serve the people has cast a gloomier view on these holiday events.
That house we passed on the way to the store is where I’ve told a husband his wife of 60 years is gone. Those crosses by the bridge are where I watched a family of four die – unable to get to them quickly enough. The bag boy loading our Christmas groceries is spending another holiday without his mother – I know, I took his call.
The nightmares I have will never end, I’ve been invited into some of the most intimate moments in people’s lives. I’ve seen pain and suffering, taking it home with me to nestle in bed, awake and scared that their fate will become my own. Worried that what’s worse, it will eventually stop effecting me and that’s when I’ll know it’s time to hang it up.
I’ve got PTSD. Those four letters are hard to say. I’ve spent time afraid that if I say it out loud, someone will question me why – and they do. I feel shame, like what I have I didn’t deserve. They think PTSD is for soldiers, and I’m just a dispatcher. I can’t begin to explain it so I shrug my shoulders and walk away, knowing that someone else’s pain and suffering is now a part of me as a person and I can’t begin to make sense of it for them.
Family gatherings like this are exhausting, for the well meaning but always annoying questions about work, about my worst call. They want to live through me, feel a thrill of a life saved but most of the stories that I carry around aren’t happy ones. No one really wants to know unless it’s a happy one. So I make something up, hoping that it will satisfy them for the moment, and it does. I can go back to sitting at the kids table, content in their chatter.
I look forward to being able to go home, and just be by myself. My own demons feel like better company sometimes. They’re familiar at least. I know what to expect. It’s not that I don’t love my family, I just can’t make them understand and that feels more exhausting to me.
So I smile, nod my head and sit there quietly just waiting to go home.Post Views: 405
By Ricardo — 8 years ago
Making memories is huge for me. I love taking pictures of my family whenever I get the chance. It can probably get annoying since my phone is attached to my hip and I’m constantly pulling it out but I want to catch moments to reflect on. Even when I don’t have the camera out I like to do things that are special. They can be the smallest things but those are the one we remember most right? I have been thinking a lot about my family and the time I have spent with my son. There are a lot of things he has picked up from watching me and we have laughed about everything. Soon enough my baby Lola will be born and we will make new memories with her. What’s made me think about all this more than usual has been two specific Country songs. Now, I will admit that I am not a huge Country fan by any means but the songs I have heard are making me think about my kids. The first song is by Rodney Atkins and it’s called, “Watching You”. It was introduced to me by a co-worker and right away it hit home. The song talks about the time spent between father and son and how the son has been watching what he does. He uses a four letter word and his father asks him where he learned to talk like that. The chorus and reply from the son begins with, “I’ve been watching you.” I had to laugh when I first heard it because it reminds me of my son and I.
I remember when he was around four years old and he would play on the deck while I grilled. My son would tell me that the deck was our ship and that we were sailing the seas in search for treasure. I was given the title of cook, and first matey, as he pronounced it and we got to fight off mean pirates. We even had a canon to take out the pirate ships and once we were hit and taking on water my son was always able to get the water out before it put out the fire to our grill. We still pretend to sword fight but he has now moved on to the wonders of Star Wars. I remember doing my best Yoda voice and he blew me out of the water with an impression of his own. He’s so much like me and it’s crazy how he already has my sense of humor. We crack jokes all the time and listen to a lot of music. His taste in music is all over the place but what I enjoy the most is when he busts out in air guitar and sings.
“Check this out!” He goes into air guitar mode and acts out the intro to Working Man by Rush.
“Ok, now you do the drums and I’ll sing.”
I start out with the drums and he pulls out an air mic. Instead of the intro he goes straight for the chorus, his favorite.
“I guess that’s why they call me! They call me the working man! I guess that’s what I am…”
We both stand there like rock gods and play until we see fit. I love every moment of it and our zany and quirky moments tie together with the second country song that has me thinking. It’s called, “Just Fishin'” by Trace Adkins. The song is about a father and daughter who have gone on a fishing trip. While on this trip the daughter is telling her father about her dolls, and ballerina shoes while getting her fishing pole ready. “She thinks we’re just fishing” is what comes next in the song and it’s the father saying that while she thinks they’re just fishing, they are also making memories. This is what I have done with my family and it will continue on until it’s my time many years from now. Whether we’re playing video games, watching cartoons, pretending we’re Jedi’s or pretending we’re pirates in search of treasure, I will do it as much as I can. We only have so much time with our kids before they’re all grown up and off on there own. Don’t let time pass you by. Take as many pictures and record as many video’s as you can. I know I try but sometimes it’s not enough. I am consumed with my work and I need to learn to put it aside and just live. When my daughter is born I’m sure the pretending will go from Jedi’s and Pirates to tea parties and dolls. I’m ready to continue the adventure. I’m ready to create memories, as much as I can…
(Below are the video’s I mentioned. Enjoy them!)Post Views: 357
By Ricardo — 7 years ago
For the past few weeks it has snowed consistently in West Michigan. Well…that’s not entirely true. It snowed to the point that I thought Old Man Winter had finally awaken. Then, the other night, there was a thunderstorm! Yeah, you read that right. In the middle of January there was a thunderstorm complete with lightening. Only in Michigan would weather like this take place. I have been holding off on writing this post until we were right smack in the middle of winter but now the snow is gone. But since the snow will probably be back within the next couple days I am going to spread the word on how to survive a West Michigan winter.
It’s actually pretty easy. Now, I have always heard that it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others so that you don’t make the same ones. Well, in this post you’ll be able to learn from my mistakes and the mishaps of others. First off, if you’re from Michigan or you have been here for a few winters then you should know better right? Yeah…this is far from true. As a 911 dispatcher I can tell you that people forget how to drive when winter comes around. I understand that the road is slick and sometimes the snow just pulls you in a different direction but most of the time this happens to those who are driving fast. I mean, come on! You’re driving on ice and snow you should be driving slowly! All right, all right, I’ll stop my parental rant.
1. Hey I have four-wheel drive!
So there’s a possibility that you may drive a truck, jeep, or anything with four-wheel drive. This is great during the winter but things are not always as they seem. I have a small 4-door sedan and there have been many times where I’ve gone home from work, driving slow and someone in an SUV or truck has passed me up. As I continue my tortoise drive home I eventually catch up to the vehicle that passed me. Can you guess where they were when I caught up to them? Yep, you guessed it; they ended up in a ditch. It sucks but it’s true. As a 911 dispatcher I take a lot of calls like this and the majority of the vehicles that go off into a ditch are vehicles that have four-wheel drive. So the tip here is; make sure to drive slowly during the winter even if you have a vehicle that has four-wheel drive. It’ll save your life, your vehicle, the other people on the road, and your wallet from wrecker costs.
2. “Don’t worry I got this. I’m going to make a sharp turn and we’ll slide right in.”
When making a turn on an icy road it’s always good to 1, come to a complete stop, 2, ease off the gas while turning and 3, have complete control of the car. With that said I can safely say that I now abide by these rules. Did you catch that? I NOW abide by these rules. Several winters ago I was coming home from work with my friend Vinnie. His driveway was halfway down a hill and on this particular morning it was pretty icy. I slightly tapped the brake and we began to slide down the hill.
“What are you doing Rich?”
“I’m going to make a sharp turn.”
“Don’t worry I got this. I’m going to make a sharp turn and we’ll slide right in.”
Vinnie braced himself and I spun the wheel. We fishtailed and we slammed right into his neighbor’s mailbox. I had no damage and luckily a snow bank covered most of the mailbox. We quickly reversed and when I put it in drive and slammed the gas the tires began to spin. A car was coming towards us and we freaked.
“Holy sh*t bro! Hurry!”
“I’m trying man, I’m trying!”
My tires finally caught traction and we made it into his driveway before getting hit by the other car. I’m sure I sharted during that moment of panic but in the end I learned my lesson.
3. Go back to Florida jerk!
During the winter I mentioned above my wife and I were driving around with our Florida plates. One night I was driving home from work on the highway. It had been snowing all day and when night came it began to sleet. I was driving home around midnight and I figured I would be gold because really, how many people were going to be on the road with me? Well, there happened to be a truck driving fast and passing by me. I was white-knuckling the steering wheel and I turned my head with enough time to hear,
“Hey! Go back to Florida jerk!”
All I could think was,
“What? I’m from Michigan man…I’m from Michigan…”
Yeah…I cried a little on the inside but slow and steady wins the race. As I got closer to my exit I passed a truck that had spun out into the median. Now, I don’t know if it was the same truck but it wouldn’t surprise me.
4. You’ve been…Thunderstruck!
When driving, one should always pay close attention on the road and the driving of others. This is especially true when at a four way stop. Many years ago I was on my way home from dropping my fiancé off at work. We lived in a trailer park in West Olive and as I pulled up to a four way stop within the park I noticed a minivan coming down the hill. I was enjoying the sounds of AC/DC and as I made my turn I noticed the minivan was coming fast. I sped up a little and right as Brian Johnson belted out,
The minivan slammed right into the side of my Neon. I was immediately pissed and as I sat there biting my lip, the other driver ran out and screamed at me.
“Mijo, Mijo, are you ok!?”
“Mijo”, I thought. “I’m not your Mijo.”
Mijo is Spanish for son or my little boy or something to that effect. I didn’t actually tell her that I wasn’t her Mijo but I wanted to. The whole side of my car was destroyed. We exchanged information and we went on our way.
5. DO NOT TAKE 58th STREET!
If you happen to be visiting the Fennville area of West Michigan during the winter you want to stay clear of 58th street. This road is horrible and notorious for icy conditions, high snowdrifts, and accidents. It’s mainly because of the open area on either side of the road. The high winds blow the snow over and at times you can’t even see the road. Many vehicles have fallen victim of this relentless road but still people try their luck driving on it. If you’ve never driven on it then stay away.
There you have it folks. With this information you too can survive a West Michigan winter. Learn from my mistakes and the mishaps of others. If you drive something with four-wheel drive it doesn’t mean you can haul ass in the snow. If you’re making a turn, make sure you do it right by not making a sharp turn. If you happen to be out of state and driving in the snow just drive slowly and don’t listen to the hecklers. We Michiganders are happy people but some make us look bad. Make sure to watch everything that is going on when you’re driving in the snow. If you’re at a four way stop and another car is coming down a hill, watch it for a moment. It may just slide through and hit you if you’re not paying attention. If you’re listening to AC/DC it will most likely happen during Thunderstruck. Finally, if you’re visiting the Fennville area during wintertime, please stay off 58th street. You’ve been warned and if you’re from Fennville, you know better! Have a good one and drive safe!Post Views: 366