BY: Jordan Hutchinson
I arrived at work a little early today, in an especially chipper mood. I’m not sure exactly why, I’ve been fighting a cold for what seems like two months and my family is sick as well. I walked into the room and was greeted with a warm smile from my Boss and a “hello, how are you today?” It was refreshing compared to the glaring looks I tend to get from first shift for walking in too loud, or asking what’s going on. The shift was off to a good start….
That quickly changed with about the 3rd call of the day. DOA, probable overdose on a male. Medics and Police were on scene processing for what seemed like half of the shift. The chaplain was called out and family was notified, not by me of course, that’s above my pay scale. I always wonder on these calls how long they had been there. What if the person who had found them had went home first instead of running an errand? Was there a fight? Was the person an addict? I don’t know. I cared for about five minutes, then I got over it and got on with the day. That’s the life of a dispatcher. The good, the bad and the ugly happen, then you answer another call. No two calls are the same. No two days are the same.
I was call taker today. I spoke to a woman who found her son dead, LP at a local store about a shoplifter, a local man mad about a parking situation near his house…. And honestly 20-30 more calls I can’t even remember. These are just some that I recall from the day. I try not to remember. I try not to bring my work home with me. I’ll probably go home and cry tonight because I will think of that mother who lost her son to an OD. Those kinds of calls don’t just roll off your shoulders.
Look, I’ve heard more than one person’s last breath, taken suicide calls, heart attacks, given CPR and saved lives and I’ve even given instructions for child birth over the phone. Some calls stick with you, some don’t. I think this call will stick with me for a while. Not forever like listening to a gunshot, or someone’s last breath….but it’ll stay with me for a little while. I’ll get over it, move on, come into work tomorrow and do my job again. This is my job. It’s the profession I chose. It’s the profession I love.
My shift ended around midnight, we usually have a little grace period…. early and late due to the nature of the work. If I’m stuck on a call, I may get held over a few minutes late. If my relief is here early, I may get to leave a few minutes early. Tonight I left a few minutes early and was greeted by my two dogs. I knew this meant my wife was still awake. She wakes up at 5:30am to go to work, so she’s usually asleep when I get home around 12-12:30am. The first thought in my head was something was wrong. I know she wasn’t feeling well, maybe she was up sick….maybe something worse. I turn the corner and find her asleep, with a Nora Roberts book in her hand, glasses still on, covered up in a Snoopy blanket. No big deal… the dogs barking woke her up.
She could tell I had had a rough day, apparently I don’t have a very good poker face. I told her what had happened, she said she was sorry and gave me a hug. I never understood why she would say she’s sorry. It’s not her fault. Maybe she’s showing empathy or sympathy, or doesn’t know what else to say. Neither do I. I can’t tell her everything I hear on the phone every day. I can’t tell her everything that happens at work every night. I just can’t….I wait for her to go to bed, I open a beer, text Chris and see if he wants me to write this… he doesn’t respond, I imagine he is asleep….so I started typing. These are the words I decided to type tonight.
January 26, 2018
By: Jordan Hutchinson
I came home from work this evening, took my pants off, kissed my wife and told her I was going to unwind for a while and would be to bed shortly. She whispered “OK, I love you” half asleep and rolled over. This is the typical end to my day.
Most people work a regular day shift job, 9-5, 7-3, you know…. daylight hours. I work shift work. After years on night shift, I moved up the food chain to second shift. Second shift, where I work is 4 pm-midnight. It may not be ideal for family life, but we make it work.
Today was a slow day(as we never use the word quiet) at the office for someone who works as a 911 call taker/police/fire/ems dispatcher. Whichever the hat you wear… kudos for getting through another day. Today was pretty much a stress free day for me, but it may not have been for you. If you ever need to reach out, I can be reached through the website email as I’ll be a regular contributor.
I didn’t take any calls today that’ll keep me up at night, I didn’t save anyone’s life and I didn’t help put out any fires. I did however send help for a missing runaway, a rollover car crash and a few run away dogs. Oh, and sent officers to a noise complaint at a party. Apparently the neighbor wasn’t invited...I kid, I kid...These may seem menial to you, but to the caller, they are important. It’s important to treat all callers with respect and dignity and treat each situation as it is...important or not. Obviously a domestic call would get priority over a lock out….but I’m not going to be any less courteous in getting help to a lock out victim that I am to a caller about domestic violence. This is just how I see how the job should be done. There is more than one way to skin a cat!
I wish I had something more important or interesting to write for the very first Through my eyes Thursday, but I don’t. That’s the reality of the job...it may be crazy busy, it may be crazy slow. Today was a slow day. Crazy busy means the shift goes by fast and crazy slow means the public is safe. Find the happy medium!
Thanks for reading, hopefully next week will be more eventful. We will be coming at you every Thursday with a “Through my eyes Thursday.” How the day went for me.