Ep 153 of Within the Trenches features Todd Sparrow, Director at Lawrenceburg 9-1-1 in Kentucky. In this episode Todd reflects on 35 years of public safety service, calls that have stuck with him, the Kentucky Emergency Services Conference and more. For more information on the conference please see 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 email@example.com.
Episode topics –
- Todd’s 9-1-1 story
- A domestic call at 16 years of age
- Kentucky Emergency Services Conference
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By Ricardo — 6 years ago
Within Allegan County Central Dispatch sits one of several seasoned 9-1-1 operators. Her 20 years of experience have contributed to the safety of the public as well as her co-workers in public safety. During down time, she jokes with her co-workers in the room. Having a contagious laugh, the others can’t help but join in. The phones rings, the room goes silent.
“9-1-1 where’s your emergency?”
This is how Tammy Gane answers a 9-1-1 call. She’s calm and professional with a helping of patience. She questions the caller asking for an address, name, phone number, and the situation. The call involves a car that was broken into over night. Something easy when it comes to taking a 9-1-1 call but it’s not always this easy. Tammy has dealt with far worse during the course of her career.
Gane, the oldest of three, grew up in western Michigan. The daughter of a homemaker and father, who was a truck driver, was taught a strong work ethic. This quality would follow her throughout her life and carry on in the lives of her two daughters. She began her career through friends and a chance meeting at an FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) corn roast. This meeting led to a night where she caught the public safety bug.
“I had a lot of friends that were in law enforcement and I played softball. Some of my girlfriends on the team were also married to state troopers so that’s how I got into the circle. One year I was at the corn roast with one of my girlfriends and I met Rachel’s dad there.” Rachel, being her eldest daughter, “we ended up going to a bar and his buddies left him. He wanted me to give him a ride home but I didn’t really know him so I made him stay at a hotel.”
She smiles and laughs as she reflects on this memory. “The next day he asked for a ride again and I didn’t even know him so I bought him a bus ticket and put him on the bus.” Laughter ensues as she continues her story. “We started dating and when we decided to get married I moved to Kalamazoo.” Gane explains that around the summer of ’85 her husband at that time had asked her if she wanted to ride with him during his night shift. It was the night before Thanksgiving. Gane had decided to accompany her husband that night. She started out the shift in dispatch where she describes the scene as “just crazy busy.” She later rode with her husband and witnessed a fight with a disorderly subject and radio traffic that left her pumped.
That night in dispatch was only the beginning. She would later land a job with Kalamazoo’s Juvenile Court. She dealt with child abuse neglect cases, delinquent adoption cases, and worked the switchboard. Gane also worked for a local attorney but moved to St. Joseph some time later. Around this time, she gave birth to her daughter Rachel and had gone from having a clerk’s job in the jail of Berrien County to working in dispatch. Her training back then in dispatch was that of pure observation and common sense. Her very first 9-1-1 call was someone who wanted to commit suicide.
“One night it got really busy and the 9-1-1 line was ringing and no one was available and the supervisor says, ‘answer it’.” Gane sits up as she gets into her story. “It was a guy saying, ‘I’m going to kill myself’ and I was thinking to transfer him to the suicide hotline.” The call was transferred while the caller continued to sob. When the suicide hotline picked up it was only an automated system. She disconnected from the hotline and continued to speak to the caller.
“I start talking to him and his wife had left him. Every Thursday night, I’ll never forget this…He goes and gets groceries and when he came home there was a note from his wife that she was leaving him and she left him a tape, a cassette tape, like a letter on a tape. He put the tape in, heard part of it and the machine ate it.” She continued to speak to him but the caller kept putting the phone down. “I kept thinking I was going to hear a gun shot,” Gane explains. Luckily she did not hear a gun shot. Instead she was able to keep her cool and keep the caller talking long enough for the officers to get there.
She tells the story of her first 9-1-1 call as if it were yesterday. She’s spoken to many suicidal callers since then but recently she answered a call that made national news. On the morning of Feb. 28th 2012, Gane took a call from a suicidal subject who led police on a high-speed car chase. She could hear a man screaming hysterically with police sirens in the background. Gane used her experience, calm demeanor, and patience to persuade the caller to not only slow down but also pull over. “First I asked, how fast are you going? And then lets take it down to 50 and let me know when you get to 30 and he just started listening,” Gane explains. The call can be heard in its entirety here but if you do a simple Google search you can find reports from all over on how well Gane did during this call.
Gane continues to set the bar high for 9-1-1 dispatchers. She describes her job as one where, “nothing is easy, it’s constant problem solving.” There is no real break within the walls of dispatch and Gane attributes stress relief by having good co-workers. They, and her two daughters admire her. “My mom is the most hard working woman I know. She has taught me the work ethic that I have today, and I truly thank her for that.” In the end, Gane looks back at her career and how to stay ahead of the rest.
“You have to be able to put up with everything. Deal with the bad and the good and hopefully the good outweighs the bad.”
(Audio Source: 911dispatch.com)Post Views: 225
By Ricardo — 5 years ago
Last week Wednesday was the start of the most pain I have felt in a very long time. The day actually began rather well. I went into dispatch to do some offline work and then I attended a business meeting that turned out to be pretty big for my new company, Martinez Design Concepts LLC. I was pretty stoked at the turn out and the connections I made.
On my way home one of my teeth on the bottom right side started to hurt. It wasn’t too bad and of course, everyone has gone through a minor toothache so I didn’t think much of it. On Thursday my tooth continued to hurt but I went into work and continued taking Tylenol like Skittles. The pain kept coming and going and I was brushing like mad and rinsing as much as I could.
When Friday morning came around, I decided to call my dentist to see me for a possible abscessed tooth. I went in and sure enough it was an abscess and I needed an emergency root canal. I was relieved that we would be able to take care of it on that day but no one was available to do it. An appointment was made for the following Thursday and I was sent on my way with prescriptions for Penicillin and some Tylenol 3’s. The pain persisted throughout the day and got worse. I went to work and while I was there I noticed that the bottom right side of my face began to swell. Around midnight or so I could no longer take the pain and rushed to the nearest E.R.
Once I got there I noticed the funny looks from those who saw or spoke to me. I realized that my swelling was more obvious than before. When the doctor came in to see me she began pressing against my face. It hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I laid back and she looked in and began pressing and pushing against my gums and that hurt even more. She was looking for a pocket of some sort to drain from but couldn’t find a good enough spot.
Once again I was sent home with an anti-biotic and some painkillers but one of them I was able to get before I left the E.R. Now, when the doc told me that she could give me a shot of something, I thought she just meant a dose, in pill form. Nope! This was literally a shot and one that was to go in my rear! The nurse walks in and says,
“Ok, I have your prescriptions ready and now for the painkiller.”
I was surprised to see the shot in her hand so I began to roll up my sleeve.
“No, no. Um…this goes in your rear. Here’s a blanket so you can pull everything down.”
I was immediately embarrassed that I had to drop everything and she leaves so that I can do so. I unzip, drop and sit on the bed. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that she needed everything down. She opens the door and looks at me and says,
“Um…you still have your underwear on right?”
“No, you said everything down.”
“Oh…well that’s not what I meant. Pull everything back up.”
I laughed inside and thought, “I knew she only needed one cheek!”
She comes in, tells me to lie on the bed, I supply one cheek and she hits me with the shot. It hurt like hell but it took the pain away. Sheesh…how embarrassing it was. I’m sure when she first opened the door I looked like I was ready to take a dump on the bed seeing how everything was down. Argh!
From there I went back to work but went home early. The next morning my face had swelled up to the picture included in this post. The pain was unbearable but luckily a friend of mine suggested a dentist office that works over the weekend. Between Saturday and today, I have been to that dentist trying to get the swelling down. Today I felt pain I have never experienced before. It wasn’t childbirth but it might as well have been. Since the swelling was taking longer to go down, they decided to cut me open in order to drain what was inside. They numbed me up with three shots to the gums. It worked rather well but I could partially feel what they were doing. They used three different scalpels during this procedure. I felt when they hit pockets of infection and what made it worse was hearing the scalpel cut through the tissue. Imagine cutting up ribs or better yet, the cartilage part of chicken. That’s what it sounded like. During the procedure they even hit me with another shot before taking a break and I could feel the needle go into the wound.
After that I couldn’t feel a thing. Thank God for that because I was breathing so hard from what I was feeling earlier that I probably would’ve passed out. The incisions remain open to drain but since they are superficial wounds, the dentist said that they would heal over within six hours. Now I’m home and typing up this post. Never have I been through so much pain. Having to be cut open blew but if it’s going to help out my situation then I’m all about it. I still haven’t had my root canal but it’s only because of all this other crap that happened. It has to heal for a couple weeks before they can do it and the swelling might stay for a month or so. It all sucks but I’m hanging in there. So really, the moral of this story is,
TAKE CARE OF YOUR STUPID TEETH OR LEARN THE HARD WAY!Post Views: 261
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: 136