Welcome to another episode of Within the Trenches, true stories from the 9-1-1 dispatchers who live them. Episode 202 features Morgan, dispatcher and public relations officer with Gasconade Central out of Missouri and is a Gold Line Scholarship winner. This episode was recorded at the convention center in Nashville, Tennessee for the 2018 National NENA conference.
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Episode topics –
- Morgan’s 9-1-1 story
- How Morgan started
- Early calls and calls that have stuck with her
- And more
As always, if you have any comments, questions, or you would like to be a guest on the show, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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: 225
By Ricardo — 6 years ago
The field of emergency services has a big responsibility. They put themselves on the line every day in order to keep the public safe. When you call 9-1-1 for police, fire, or ems, you get to see them face-to-face. The ones you don’t see are the dispatchers on the other end. They are first in line when an emergency occurs and their role is vital to the safety of the public. Jabber Log recently sat down with Whitney Wilson, a 9-1-1 operator with Allegan County Central Dispatch, to see what she does and why she does it.
This article continues the Emergency Services Series that began a month ago to show another side that people don’t get to see. Everyone has a story to tell and according to 911dispatch.com, “There is no accurate source of figures on the number of full-time public safety dispatchers. One industry association claims there are 250,000 “public safety 911 professionals.” Out of those 250,000 this is just one story.Post Views: 145
By Ricardo — 7 years ago
For this entry I would like to talk about a call I took that rocked me to my core. When I think back it still gives me goosebumps. This situation was enough for me to write a memoir on it for a class I had several months ago. The memoir was suppose to be about something that occurred in my life that made me change something. I wrote about growing up with my siblings and thinking that nothing could ever break us apart. My brother and I were close but I somewhat took him for granted because I felt he would always be there. It took one extreme moment to finally make me realize that at any moment a loved one can be stripped away from you. Cherish the time that you have because you never know when it will end. The following is an excerpt from my memoir and I cut it as short as possible because it is six pages long. The names in the memoir other than my own and my brother are made up as well as the address. No identities are revealed here what so ever.
“9-1-1 where’s your emergency?”
This is something I asked every day and you always know when you are going to have a bad call. I say this because as soon as you pick up the phone you hear the screams. They are the screams of a horror movie except this horror is real. This call was no different and I immediately heard what I thought were two women screaming.
“Ma’am? Hello? Ma’am can you hear me?”
The screaming continued, the camel hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. My co-worker to the right looked toward me and I shook my head not knowing what was going on.
“Ma’am can you hear me?”
When a caller is screaming hysterically, secondary voices are just background. It takes a little longer to get through but you do the best you can. The screams of heartache and tragedy continued. I brought my voice down to a whisper to almost trick the caller into thinking there was no one there.
“Ma’am can you hear me?”
“Hello?! Is someone there?”
“Yes”, I answered with authority. “What’s your address?”
She stumbled over her words as the person in the background continued to scream. I could hear stuff being thrown around and I thought it was a domestic call.
“4357 Madison Dr.”, she blurted, trying to hold back from a melt down.
She continued with her name and phone number and the screams were growing. Something else had happened here but the caller was hard to understand. The police were already on their way and I was first in line to figure out what happened.
“Ma’am? I need to know what is going on.”
“I can’t believe he did it,” yelled a person in the background.
The screams turned into rage and the voice in the background sounded more and more like a male.
“Julie what’s going on? Who else is there?”
“It’s just me and my fiancé.”
“Who was screaming in the background? I thought there was another girl there with you?”
“No, that was him.”
“Why were you screaming? The police are on their way but you need to tell me what is going on.”
“Well my fiancé John, his brother Mike, and I were at the bar. Mike just got out of a relationship and he’s been depressed for the past week now. He kept telling us that he…that he…”
“That he was going to do what Julie?”
“That he was going to kill himself and we brushed it off.”
I frantically typed as she spoke and officers were almost there. One of my co-workers had already sent EMS to stage in the area until we knew for sure what was going on. My body was hot and sweat began to build between my ear and the phone.
“Then what happened?”
“We…we got home and he started saying it again. John went and got a shotgun, and told him that if he was going to do it to go ahead. He didn’t think he was going to do it but he shot himself in the head.”
I gasped and held my breath for a moment. I fell into their shoes and the thought of losing my younger brother swarmed my senses. Thinking that he would always be there was just me lying to myself. Tragedy could strike at any moment and I was currently listening to a grown man scream for his brother.
“Where is John now? Where’s the gun?”
“I don’t know? I think he went…Oh my god!”
“What’s going on Julie?!”
“John’s got the gun, he’s got it!”
For a moment I thought I would hear a gunshot. He yelled and screamed that it was his fault and that he did not think his brother would do it. I could feel his pain and I thought of my brother.
“Go to a different room Julie! Get away from him!”
“He just put it back down and went back outside…I’ll put it away.”
The police arrived and Julie broke down. The adrenaline was slipping away and she was no longer the strong one. She broke just as John did and I felt their pain within me. The call lasted less than six minutes but when taking a phone call like this, it’s a lifetime.
Afterward, I only thought of my brother. I thought about how I treated him and how I thought he would always be there. Nothing could tear us apart but after taking this call I realized that it could easily end before either of us knew it. When my shift ended I called my brother. It was very early in the morning but I had to speak to him.
“Rich? What’s wrong man?”
“I love you dude.”
“What? I love you too.”
“No man, I’m serious.”
I told him about my call. I told him that it killed me inside to think that I could lose him as fast as the people that dealt with their own loss. It finally made sense to me and it took a tragedy for me to come to this conclusion. It’s funny how it takes something extreme for one to realize the truth but maybe that is what we need; a swift kick in the ass to jump start the senses and the mind. After I told my brother about the call he understood why I needed to speak to him so bad. He replied with,
“I love you man.”Post Views: 374