Ep 138 features Christine, dispatch supervisor with Waukesha, Wisconsin and Drew, manager of EMS and flight communications of Columbia City, Indiana. In this episode we follow Christine and Drew as they reflect on their careers and how they got there. Stories are shared along with moments of clarity and realization that this job is not just a job but a life long career.
This is a must listen so please check it out and share it. To learn more about the IAED follow the links below. As always if you have any comments, questions or you would like to be a guest on the show, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Episode topics –
- Christine’s 9-1-1 story
- Drew jump into public safety
- 9-1-1 calls
- NAVIGATOR conference experience
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By Ricardo — 7 years ago
I have always said that, “in the moment of crisis, we are the voice of authority.” It’s something that I firmly believe. We as dispatchers are your link to the help you need. We do our best with every call because that’s what we do. We get the job done and send help where help is needed. When our caller is overwhelmed with panic and fear we are there to calm them down. It’s not an easy job and it amazes me how some people can think that we are merely drones with no emotion. I can tell you from personal experience that this is far from true. The job itself is easy to learn but it’s the emotional stress that can take a toll on you.
Let’s start with a scenario. You wake up on a beautiful spring morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you have the whole day ahead of you. You look over at your spouse and your heart drops. What you see before you has taken your breath way and your heart is racing. You panic and begin to shake your spouse…he doesn’t move. You want to cry but you can’t. You begin to sweat and in your moment of shock and panic you run next door to ask your neighbor for help. This can’t be happening. Not today, not for a long time you think, but it is happening. You lay next to your lifeless spouse as your neighbor calls 911. It’s horrifying, is it not? This is a call I took a few years ago. I spoke to the neighbor and all I could hear in the background was a female yelling for her husband. I remained calm and did my job but inside I was dying.
“Don’t leave me! Please, not now…we had so much time left together!”
I’ve heard shouting like this many times. I have felt my callers pain and I think what makes it hard is that there is no closure. When we take 911 calls we try to deal with them one at a time but sometimes it gets so busy that we have to go back and forth between them. Once the call is over and help has arrived we go right to the next one. Sometimes the only way we find out the outcome is when someone calls for the medical examiner. I mean, if we ever get the chance we’ll find out some information but otherwise we’re in the dark and it makes it hard. I’ve listened to more death than you can imagine. I have heard those taking their last breaths, and I have heard families grieving for their loved ones. One can develop thick skin but it doesn’t always work. After listening to the screams of those in need and those in mourning it definitely starts to penetrate the defenses of ones emotions.
I remember when I worked in Florida many years ago. It was my first night alone and I was chatting with the Chief before he headed home. As he left the door swung open. A lady ran in crying and screaming. I could barely make out what she was saying. The Chief and an officer left to a near by residence and the lady remained in the lobby sobbing. She had just come from her residence where she found her husband. She had recently left him but decided to go patch things up. She wanted to be with him again but instead she found his suicide note. This is how my dispatching career began. I remember how surreal the moment was. I remember how I felt for this woman who had just found her husband dead. I wanted to go over and hug her as she cried for him but I couldn’t. I had a job to do and I remained in my seat. For the rest of my time in Florida, I believe that was the worst call I ever experienced. It wasn’t until my current job that I dealt with it more frequently.
There is nothing worse than listening to someone die. Those last gasping breaths can haunt you. The calls that get me the most have to do with giving CPR instructions. I was once told that if you’re giving CPR instructions the person has a 5% chance of coming back. Every call I have taken, I hope and pray that the person falls within that 5%. It doesn’t always happen that way though. There is no consistent happy ending but the majority of the time there are other factors to ones death that CPR cannot fix. It’s a hard job but this is what my co-workers and I do. I could go on and on with the scary parts of my job but I will stop for now. There is a lot more that I have dealt with but this is just another glimpse into dispatch. The emotions flow within us like any other person but we hold back in order to do the best job imaginable. Would you ask for anything less?Post Views: 133
By Ricardo — 6 years ago
Hello everyone! It’s been about two weeks since my last post here and the break was definitely needed. I have been hard at work and between, family, school, work, and personal projects, I really needed to step back a moment and prioritize. During my break I was able to finish school and design my personal website. It will included my portfolio among other items. As of right now I have the homepage and blog portion completed. I just have to finish up on four more pages and it will be revealed to all.
All of that has lead to one thing, graduation. My school is based in Winter Park Florida so that meant I would have to take a vacation. I know, Florida is so horrible this time of year, (playful sarcasm) but I can’t miss my own graduation. The excitement of it was becoming unbearable as early as last week. As Friday approached the local news station warned of winter weather. I figured it was a crock since this winter in West Michigan has been nothing compared to previous winters. I think it has snowed maybe five or six times and even then it didn’t stay.
Friday morning, or two days ago, I woke up at 3am to get ready for work. I walked outside and it was snowing but not like I had heard. My car was barely covered and I figured my team and I would have an easy day in dispatch followed by an easy drive for my family and I. The Gods and Goddesses of winter must have heard my cocky remarks about the weather and they let us have it! Dispatch was busy with slid-offs and accidents everywhere. We had only so many officers working but we kicked ass like we always do. It also helped that my co-worker Whitney hooked everyone up with some awesome BBQ pulled pork. Although we had good food the powers that be continued to grace us with snow so our eating time was limited.
After kicking ass at work and saying my good-byes I headed home to get the family and head out on our long trip to Florida. After packing the car and getting some last minute items we were off. Our first stop was at the local BK to get some fastfood and my 6 month old daughter Lola was already tired of being in her seat. She was fussing so my wife decided to sit in back to keep her company. It was just what the doctor or Lola ordered and she was good to go. The snow was coming down hard and when we got to Benton Harbor the snow was really bad. White-out conditions and no windshield fluid made it tough but we made it out fine. At one point I couldn’t even tell where the road was.
“You should see this.”
“I don’t want to look.”
I shoved more fries in my mouth as I tried to figure out where the highway was. Luckily the smart folks at the Michigan Department of Transportation decided that rumble strips between lanes would be best. Indeed they were correct because that was the only way I knew I was within my lane. The snow was like this until we passed Indianapolis. After that the roads were clear and I was on a mission to get as far as I could before switching with my wife. Now remember in the beginning I said I woke up at 3am for work. It was almost 3am when we hit Kentucky and I was beginning to wind down. The kids were asleep as well as my wife but when I stopped to put gas in she ended up in the drivers seat. I was relieved and ready for a nap. We took off and I crashed out.
I remember dreaming something crazy and someone was pushing me. I awoke out of a deep sleep and it had been my wife trying to wake me up.
“WHAT’S WRONG!? ARE YOU OK?”
Rebecca looked at me with her eyes half open,
“I don’t think I can make it.”
“How long have I been asleep?”
“An hour or so…I think.”
I laughed and applauded the fact that she took the wheel for me.
“I’m sorry, you know that when it’s dark out I want to sleep.”
“It’s cool, I had a cat nap and I’m ready to go.”
We stopped at the next restarea and I hit the road with a bag of beef jerky and a couple cans of Red Bull. We were making pretty good time and the kids were doing great. The whole trip was pretty easy and I was proud of Lola because she hates her carseat. I don’t know if she just gets bored or if she gets hot but she will pitch a fit. Until this point of the trip she had been fine but the last 2 hours were HELL! She fussed here and there but nothing big. The traffic blew and for whatever reason the people of Florida wait a few minutes after the traffic light has turned green to take off. I mean, geez people! Punch the gas already! We were all getting hot and ready to be done. The very last leg of the trip was where Lola had had it. She definitely let us know where to put it in baby talk and when we finally reached our destination I wanted to kiss the grass and roll around in it.
It was a good trip overall but man that last part about killed us. I would like to thank the excellent people of Combos, Jack Links Beef Jerky, and Red Bull. Without your contributions to society I would have not made this long trip on minimal sleep. Thank you to my family for hanging in there and we left on Friday at 7pm and arrived Saturday in Florida at 5pm. Despite everything that attempted to hold us back we pushed forward and that’s how you go from Michigan to Florida in 22 hours.Post Views: 191
By Ricardo — 7 years ago
It been 8 years since my wife and I got married. Today we celebrate our anniversary and our marriage has been great. We’ve hit our rough patches and at times we thought we should take a break but we continued to fight for each other and we’re together. We laugh together, argue together, and most importantly we are dorks together. I think that’s what keeps us going. No matter how mad we might get about something we are always able to laugh about it. On top of that we are straight up dorks like I previously stated. When a song comes on that we like we bust out our best, dorked out moves and jam. It doesn’t matter where we’re at either. We can be in the car, at the store, or just on a walk and we bust out our moves. It embarrasses our 7 year old but it’s cool. I’m sure he digs it…deep down he digs it.
My wife and I met like any normal couple. We met through a friend and our first meeting included an injured dog. Yep, you read that right. When Rebecca and our friend Leanne showed up I met them at the door. I was so nervous about meeting Rebecca that I had to wash my hair twice and do my hair a different way. Yeah, I was stupid but I wanted to look somewhat good. So there I was, so fresh and so clean, and the first thing Rebecca says is,
“There’s a dog that was hit down the road and we’re going to go check on it.”
I remember walking off with them and Leanne introduced us. It wasn’t the way I thought it was going to go and to be honest, I thought they were joking about the dog until I saw it in the middle of the road. As we walked towards it a car was coming and instead of moving out of the way the car purposely swerved into the dog and ran it over a second time. We yelled at them and as the car passed the teens inside just laughed and hollered. Had they stopped I’m sure we would have beat them and thrown them in a ditch before torching their car in an orange grove. The car continued on and we tried to help the dog out of the road. I called one of the officers I worked with and she called animal control to come pick it up. We spent the rest of the night talking and hanging out. At the end of the night Leanne had jokingly mentioned to give me a hug and kiss and I remember Rebecca saying,
“Uh…NO. I’ll give him a hug though.”
I was on cloud nine after that hug and I was hooked. I remember when we spoke on the phone before we met and saying that I was not looking for anything. Rebecca said the same but after I met her and talked to her, I realized that I was looking for someone. We have been together ever since. On this day 8 years ago we were married. I remember how nervous I was and my buela Jimenez kept telling me that she was happy for me and that everything would be fine. My mom was running late and she still had to get to the church to do Rebecca’s hair. I kept getting phone calls and I’m sure my blood pressure was through the roof. When my mom finally arrived to drop my brother off there was about 30 or 40 minutes left before the wedding started. My brother was going to jump into the shower and I remember yelling at him to hurry up.
“Dude, you have five minutes to shower and then we have to leave!”
“Alright man, but I have to shave too!”
“You have five minutes to do everything bro!”
“Man, how am I going to do that?”
“You need to take a County wash bro…you know, wash what counts and get out!”
Thank the lord that he was able to pull it off in record time and we were off. The church was about 15 or so minutes away so we jumped into the car and hauled butt. We were headed out and halfway there I began to smell something burning. The world around me froze as I thought about my vehicle. At that moment I remembered that there was a crack in the radiator and that I needed to fill it with water every other day or it would overheat. I snapped back to reality when I nearly ran a traffic light and I began to panic even more.
“What the hell are you doing Rich!?”
“I’m not thinking right! I completely forgot about the radiator and now the car is going to overheat and we have no time to stop.”
We kept going and I remembered that someone once told me that if I ran the heater that the car would cool down a little. I blasted the heater and it actually went down a little but it wasn’t enough. I passed up cars and took the last two corners like a stunt driver while pulling into the church. I parked and when I got out of the car I opened up the back door to get my jacket and all kinds of stuff fell out. I didn’t care, I left it and ran toward the door where my father was.
“Where the hell have you been?”
“I have five minutes to spare dad!”
“Alright well get your ass inside everyone is waiting!”
I walked in and Rebecca’s aunt walked me to the other end of the church for a few pictures. I was soaking with sweat and relieved that I made it.
“Alright, now I need you to sit here and pose like you’re out of it.”
“Well that won’t be too hard. I was panicking that I wasn’t going to make it here.”
She laughed and I took a few pictures. I went inside to wait and when it was time the nerves were gone. I turned to see her at the door and I was overwhelmed with emotion. My smile was stretched from ear to ear and Rebecca smiled back at me. After the ceremony we were announced as a married couple and the rest is history. My wife and I met like any couple…well maybe not like any couple but it’s been an adventure from the beginning. We have two kids together and I can’t wait to see what life has in store for us. There is nothing that can hold us back, bring on the adventure and happy anniversary Rebecca.Post Views: 65