Welcome to another episode of Within the Trenches, true stories from the 9-1-1 dispatchers who live them. Episode 193 features Jim Marshall, Director of the 9-1-1 Training Institute and author of The Resilient 9-1-1 Professional. This was recorded at the 2018 NAVIGATOR conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Episode topics –
- Health and dispatch
- The Resilient 9-1-1 Professional
- And more
As always if you have any comments, questions, topic suggestions or you would like to be a guest, send an email to email@example.com
You Might also like
By Ricardo — 1 year 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: 167
By Ricardo — 2 years ago
A Guest Blog Post By:
This morning I woke up as my husband was getting ready to head into work. Today is his normal day off, yet he is going in to work some overtime and to lead the range training for the other officers. I saw his range uniform laying there. He got dressed, I gave him a kiss, told him his butt looked good in those pants and off he went. I proceeded to start laundry, and I see his uniform needs washed. I broke down. Why? I can’t tell you exactly why it was that moment that sent me into tears, all I know is that, that moment sparked a million thoughts running rampant through my head.
What if this is the last time I wash this uniform? What if I get “the call”? What if something bad happens?
Then my mind turns to hate; Why don’t all these idiots understand? Why are they killing MY family? If I had it my way, I’d just… and I stopped myself. Hate is powerful, and in a matter of seconds, I had so much rage inside of me against these Officer Murdering Cowards. (Okay, maybe there’s still a little bit) I should not give these monsters that satisfaction.
Back to more questions that run through my head as I’m in tears. Why does he do it? Wait… HOW does he do it? You can ask any officer WHY they do their job, and you will likely get a very politically correct answer of, “to serve my community” which for most is VERY true. However, “WHY” is a very loaded word…
Why?- I can’t speak for every officer’s “why”, or even my husbands, but what I can tell you is how I interpret my husband’s “why” from what I’ve seen, so I’m going to throw out a few scenarios of what I think drives my husband to be a Police Officer.
First off, children. There is no doubt that helping children is a driving force behind my husbands service to our community. Example: I receive a phone call from him, “Babe, do we have any of the boys old gloves, hats, scarves that don’t fit them anymore and are still in good shape?” Me, “Yah.” Him, “Could you run them into the PD now?” Me, wondering, but without question, I take them in. He thanks me, gives me a kiss and goes back inside. He returns home that night to explain that he had a woman who was caught stealing gloves and hats from a local store. She was stealing them for her children, because it was cold outside and she did not have the means to afford them. So he gave the bag full of hats, gloves and scarfs, to this woman for her children. A selfless act of kindness and support in what is possibly this woman’s worst day. All for the children.There is a distinct difference in his facial expressions when he returns home on a day that he has had to handle any case where children are being mistreated. Children that are beaten, children that are sleeping in homes full of cockroaches, and the only bed they have is a rug on the floor. It kills him to see this, knowing that this is a reality for some children.
Another reason, to help others. A couple months back, and some of you Marshalltown people will remember these people, there was a group of 3 “train hoppers” traveling through Marshalltown. They had two dogs with them, and no where to stay. One of their dogs was hit by a car. My husband, in his squad, picked up the dog, took it to the vet, contacted a local rescue personally, that paid the bill for the dog’s treatment. A few days later, these 3 individuals had to spend some time in jail. My husband arranged for placement for the dogs, while the individuals were in jail. Once released, he took these people dog treats, and dog food, before they left town. It turns out these people ended up causing a lot of trouble in town after my husband’s kindness towards them, however, he did not doubt his help for them.
Another that will sit with me for a long time; mostly because it scared me & I told him he should no longer do that. After a long shift at work my husband returned home, slept then got up early to go help a fellow officer on a home project. While returning home from said project, my husband drove past the jail. He saw an individual that he had arrested the night before walking on the highway, headed towards town, after being released in the morning. My husband, the arresting officer of this man, the man who took this individual to jail, stopped and offered this guy a ride back to town. The individual got into the car, not realizing it was the officer that had arrested him at first, thanked my husband for picking him up, then looked over… silence. Followed by a “holy crap, your the officer. Wow, Thank You SO MUCH! That is so amazing, I can’t believe”…. and so on.
So to answer my own question of why. That is “WHY.” To help people to help children, despite their background, their color of skin, their age, their looks, their lifestyle.
Now, onto the hard part, HOW?? I struggle with this, because I can guarantee you, that I absolutely could not be a police officer. There is just no way. I do not have the ability to keep my calm and cool in situations that they deal with.
How do they day after day, experience people at their worst moments, and return home at night to their families and say, “Oh work was good.” ?
How do they go to a job where they know that there are people out there that want to murder them, because they wear a uniform?
How do they miss endless holidays, birthdays, family gatherings etc. all to put on a uniform that is all too often met with hate.
How do they, get spit at, hit, screamed at, called names, and stand their ground without yelling back, without screaming back, without holding a grudge?
How do they face evil daily, and get up early to go in and work extra shifts on their day off?
I don’t have the answer. I simply do not understand, how. I can tell you that if you ask my husband his answer will likely be a very downplayed response like, “Oh, it’s just part of the job. Not that big of a deal. Ya get used to it and don’t take it personally.” Again, I can’t explain how, and I assume most officers do not want us to know, how, because their version of “how” is too intense for us to handle.
I do know that being an Officer’s wife has changed me. Any Officer’s spouse that tells you otherwise is lying. It’s not a bad change, but a “new normal.” What is normal for your family on your husband of wives day off, differs slightly for my family. Before I knew my husband, I never had a strong tie to law enforcement, I knew a few officers and I respected them, but was still pissed at them when I got a speeding ticket….or 5. I met my husband, I still had a very misconstrued view of how they do their jobs. After awhile I learned, that what I had thought, from all of my years of experience watching Law & Order, was well, all wrong. I’m sure I asked a million questions that my husband thought were annoying, but he answered them. After awhile you stop asking. You realize that, the last thing they want to do is answer a million questions about work when they are finally home from work and able to relax. So you learn to ask the simple, “How was work?” get the typical, “Oh it was good” and then move on. No details needed. My husband needs to know that home is the place where he doesn’t have to relive the evil, tragedy, and anger that he see’s while at work. As an Officers spouse you will also experience a new “normal.” Suddenly people you barely know or talk to, believe that you are now their personal police person. If I had a quarter for everytime someone asked me a police related question, well my husband wouldn’t need to be a cop anymore. Or people that automatically think it’s okay for them to tell you what they think about your spouse. My personal favorite, An individual I work with, and was meeting for the first time, asked what my spouse did. I hesitantly responded, “He’s a Police Officer.” She explained her son had been into some trouble. I changed the subject. I return to work the next day and first words out of her mouth, “Oh I asked my son about your husband. My son says your husband is a real dick!” (Now most wives, may walk away, try to downplay it, or give some nice politically correct reason…I’m not so good at that, and at this time I had been working for 20 hours already and had 10 more to go, so…) My response, “Well then your son must be a real piece of shit! Cause my husband is only a dick if ya really earn it!” Needless to say, she didn’t have much of a response. This is an example, of how your life changes as the spouse of an Officer. People think this is okay, they think they have to tell you. Luckily all of us spouses are stronger than anyone knows and we get used to this banter and with time, (I’m still working on it) you learn to ignore it.
I don’t want people to think that their job is completely unappreciated, it isn’t. There are most definitely people that do support them. All sorts of people in our community have shown an outpouring of support to our officers in these past few weeks. Simply telling an Officer, Thank-You, may be the one and only positive experience they have that day. I can tell you that all of our Officers are hurting right now, not just in Marshalltown, but Nation wide. Some cover the hurt with strength and attitude, some with laughter and smiles others do not cover it, but meet it with anger and resent while trying to maintain a professional demeanor and appearance. So remember that when you see an Officer and they don’t have a smile on their face, or they aren’t dancing in the street with people. Their family, their co-workers, their brothers and sisters are being hunted & murdered, and they don’t know if at any second, they are next.
So be compassionate, listen, and show your support.
Time for me to put that uniform into the dryer. This is a load of laundry that I will never forget. I only hope, that I get the honor of washing that uniform for many, many years to come.Post Views: 195
By Ricardo — 5 years ago
Within the Trenches is back with episode 31! This episode was recorded at the National NENA Conference and Expo at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. In this episode I had the pleasure of speaking with Elise, the Executive Director of 9-1-1 for Kids. The history of the organization is revealed as well as the main purpose, which is to help reduce 9-1-1 misuse. This was an excellent episode and as you will hear in the beginning and the end of the show the music is different. This was done in honor of 9-1-1 for Kids and more information on the song can be found on their website by following the links below. This episode is packed with information and as always you can email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Episode topics –
Post Views: 102
- The main goal of 9-1-1 for Kids
- The importance of public education
- Awards given for 9-1-1 heroes
- 9-1-1 stories involving child heroes