Through my Eyes Thursday

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.

Through My Eyes Thursday

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.

Your Sedentary Job is Destroying Your Body

BY: Stephen Murawski, BSc, NASM, FMS Pure - Strength and Wellness Owner/Health and Fitness Professional

Your Sedentary Job is Destroying Your Body!!!!

Sedentary jobs are defined as “a minimum amount of walking or standing necessary to carry out your day-to-day tasks, ultimately leading you confined into a seated position for majority of your day.” More than 86% of the American workforce has a sedentary job, sometimes for upward of 10 hours at a time with very little intermittent movement.

While our ancestors had to walk and run to perform daily tasks, we've become a much lazier generation, primarily due to advancements in technology. While technology makes our lives more efficient in many cases, it also means our butts glued to chairs, resulting in many negative effects on the body and mind. Even if you work out regularly, the cumulative lack of physical activity throughout the work week can contribute to muscularskeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, mental disease, eye disease just to name a few.  While exercising at least 5 hours per week and making healthy nutritional choices should be priorities in your lives(learn more about functional exercise at https:// www.purestrengthandwellness.com/training), the focus of this article is the affect sitting at work has on our bodies from a postural standpoint, and what we can do about it during those long grueling hours. 

How can poor posture be harmful???


When we hold our self in poor postural positions over a long periods of time, essentially what happens is the shortening of some muscles and lengthening other muscles.  Our brain remembers these changes, and this new neuromuscular connection becomes the new normal.  Thus when we recruit the muscles in a functional activity, such as walking/running, picking things up at home, working in the yard or whatever else we might be doing on the weekends, our brain will access our muscles in those settings in the same way they are used at work. Because we are sitting much more than we are using our bodies in other, more functional ways, our nervous system reverts back to what is comfortable(but not how we are designed to move)to complete the task. Unfortunately, the end result is usually injury…

Tips for improving posture

1. Stand Up and Move!!! First and foremost, moving more is always a good idea!!! Not only will you keep your basil metabolic rate high and burn more calories, but you will also increase mobility, avoid shortening hip and hamstring muscles, and activate glute muscles, all of which improve overall posture. This ‘no-brainer’ will also help keep your ideas fresh by increasing brain oxygenation. My recommendation is to implement a mandatory minimum of five minutes of deliberate movement at the top of every hour.  Get up from your desk to walk to the bathroom, the drinking fountain, or simply around the building. The change in scenery will invigorate you, and any movement can help kickstart those energy systems again!
To help remind you to do this, hourly alarms on your computer, smartphone, or watch can help remind you to get up and move more!

2. BREATHE…. Seriously, Seated Stomach Vacuums are a fantastic exercise to engage your deep abdominal muscles(transverse abdominals) and improve posture while sitting at your desk. Sit up straight, then simply inhale to inflate your lungs completely. Exhale all of the air out, and at the bottom of the exhale, draw your belly button in and upward toward your spine. Squeeze and hold that position for as long as you can. Aim for 20-second sets to begin, working up to one-minute sets over time. Perform 5-10 vacuums in a row when you feel a lull in your day. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N9msEniBkbU

3. Align your Pelvis and Ribcage  Physical Therapist Rupal Patel describes this alignment as 2 bowls, the rib cage (bowl with open side facing down) sitting right on top of the pelvis(bowl with open side facing up).  We want these bowls to be aligned to again, prevent pain in the lower back, hips, neck, and shoulders. Instead of thinking about pulling your shoulders back for good posture, the key is to lift the rib cage and lengthen your abdominal muscles to keep your 2 bowls sitting on top of each other.

4. Relax your shoulders Pretend your shoulder blades are melting down into back pockets.  This can relieve tension in the upper back, shoulders, and neck.

5. Chin Tuck Exercise This can be a fantastic exercises  to prevent upper back pain, neck pain, and headaches.  Looking at a computer screen can force us to elongate our necks, causing overuse in the posterior region of the head/neck/shoulder area.  Using your hand, push your chin straight back toward your head rest, holding for 5-10 seconds at a time.  Repeat 3 times every hour while at work! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O2kkwT6t3R0

6. Use an Ergonomic mouse These new age mouses are designed to keep your arm and shoulder in much less stressful positions.  When used regularly, standard
mouses can cause overuse in the rotator cuff, elbow, wrist, and fingers.  Although overuse injuries could happen regardless of which position your hand is in, ergo mouses put your shoulder, elbow, and hand into a neutral position, which your body is designed to maintain for much longer periods of time.

Stephen Murawski, BSc, NASM, FMS

Pure - Strength and Wellness Owner/Health and Fitness Professional

www.purestrengthandwellness.com

Interview With a 911 Dispatcher

By Shelly Matthews

What kind of person does it take to do the job?
I believe that it takes a special kind of person to be a 911 Call Taker/Emergency Dispatcher. It’s not for everyone. There’s a lot that can be taught, but this is one of those careers that you “either have it or you don’t”. The majority of the calls/incidents you deal with are other people’s bad days, sometimes their worst days. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of compassion.

What is the job like in a smaller city?
I worked for a Central Dispatch. They had eight full time dispatchers and two part time dispatchers. We worked twelve hour shifts (days and nights) and had every other weekend off. We dispatched for the Tell City Police Department, which was where we were located. They had 28 male officers and no female officers for the majority of the time I worked there. They had one k9 unit. We also dispatched for multiple County Sheriff’s Office (which had about ten deputies at the time), a seperate Police Department (which had about six officers at the time), and a city Police Department (which had one Marshall). For each shift (days/nights), we had two dispatchers on duty at a time. Duties as an Emergency Dispatcher included answering administrative & 911 phone calls, creating CAD calls for service, keeping a log of all radio traffic, assisting community members that came into the lobby, and dispatching units from the four law enforcement agencies, six fire departments, EMS for the entire county, and other first responders. There were a few nights that I worked an entire twelve hour shift without ever getting a phone call, but more often than not, we stayed busy. When you are responsible for so many people and so many duties at the same time and only have one other person to help you, it can get extremely busy and very stressful.

What is the job like in a larger city? 
I worked for the city police. They had around one hundred Communications Technicians. We worked eight hour shifts (days, evenings, and nights). A Technician would work five days and have the same two days off for four weeks, and then the rotation would move up by two days.. For example, if I had Mondays and Tuesdays off for four weeks, the following four weeks, I would have off Wednesdays and Thursdays. At times, a Technician would end up working seven days in a row for the week of changeover to their next days off. Other times, the Technician would end up with a four day weekend. They had approximately 1000 officers. They have many special divisions, such as a Marine Patrol unit, k9 units (search & rescue, drug detection, bomb detection, etc), Tactical Response unit, Dive team, Honor Guard, and Mounted Patrol. For each shift, we had around twenty-two technicians on duty at a time. At the start of the shift, we held ‘Roll Call’, which was a time when we would get updated on any ongoing situations that were occurring across the city, get our assignments, and find out any other information we needed to know to start our shift. Assignments included Admin (non-emergency) phones, 911 phones, radio (6 positions dispatching for different sectors of the city), warrants (a radio dedicated only to confirming hits, such as wanted or missing people, stolen vehicles, stolen property, etc), and Pickup desk (a phone position dedicated only to running criminal histories, processing local warrants, calling wreckers for accidents and impounds, recording private property impounds and repossessions, and assisting officers with other administrative tasks). All fire and EMS-related calls were transferred to Fire Rescue dispatch, which was located within the same building but ran as a completely separate entity. The majority of the time during an eight hour shift, technicians stayed busy. There was never a lot of downtime. On Admin or 911 phones, you may get call after call after call without any time in between. On radios, you may be responsible for fifty or sixty officers at a time. It could get very tense and stressful, but you had a lot of other technicians around you to assist you.

What are the main differences from working in a small city to a large city?
The main differences were the support system. No matter big or small, everyone worked together as a team to assist each other, especially in times of crisis; however, having more people available to assist and “back you up” in a larger city, this was definitely a plus. Scheduling was different as well. In the smaller agency, I liked the twelve hour shifts that gave us every other weekend off from work. In the larger agency, I liked having the four day weekends every once in awhile without having to take any extra time off. In the larger agency, we had a lot more people to switch days with if we wanted to have different days off one week, so it was a lot more flexible. In the smaller agency, we dealt with a lot drugs and smaller less violent crime than what we dealt with in the larger agency.

What information should a civilian prioritize when they call 911 during an emergency?
Pretend you were giving a talk/tour to boy scouts….  What's kinds of things are emergencies..what are not?  Who decides? (if it’s an emergency to you./.call 911) The best advice I can give as far as when to call 911 is that if you feel like you are not safe and need help from a police officer, take a second to think about whether you need someone immediately or not. Is this a situation that is going to change quickly? Does someone need medical attention? Is this situation a matter of life or death? Call 911. But if this is a situation that can wait, such as a delayed crime or a call where information is needed, you can call the non-emergency number.

An Officer’s View of the Role of a 911 Dispatcher

By Officer Jay Lewiston

I have been a police officer for over 15 years. There have been exciting calls to go on. There have been scary calls, too. Sad calls, uneventful calls. Anything and everything. Just when you wonder if you’ve seen it all, something new comes along and opens your eyes in wonder or disbelief. But the one thing that has remained the same has been a voice on the other end of that Motorola radio, giving me the location and information. Unfortunately, just as the calls for service vary, the dispatchers putting out that information can also vary.

You cannot have a reaction until there is an action. And my initial reaction comes from that first bit of radio traffic. How a dispatcher marks that call will dictate my first thoughts and response. If a dispatcher excitedly marks my badge number, my heart kind of jumps. This must be something juicy and exciting! Oh thank God! Sometimes the radio traffic continues and it is a good call. And I’ll be excitedly driving to the scene. Other times, the dispatcher will continue the radio traffic and the call is no big deal. Why were you so excited to mark my badge number? This call is stupid and you’re getting me all excited for nothing. There are times that a dispatcher will initially mark my badge number and sound amused. Now I’m trying to figure out what is so amusing. Is the caller pretty much an idiot and the dispatcher knows that I won’t like him or her when I get there? What’s the joke? Did something happen behind the scenes in the radio room that has nothing to do with this call? I don’t know. Amusement makes my wheels turn--like I don’t really know what is coming but I’m gonna be guarded and hopefully I can figure out what is so entertaining.

Along the lines of the first bit of traffic is the amount of traffic. Some of you dispatchers forget that part of your job is to communicate with the officers about what is going on. I’m not a mind reader. I didn’t take the 911 phone call. I wasn’t there. But you need to fill me in with something other than the address and type of call. I can read the computer screen and get that little information on my own. Others forget that you can communicate too much. Silence is golden. I don’t need to know everything about everything. Information overload to the point that I honestly zone out and quit listening anyways. Save the air space for someone who needs it for a “hot” run.

Find that happy medium for radio traffic. But if it’s  important, then tell me! Don’t just add it into a one-line narrative and hope that I read that little golden nugget of information. I’m trying to drive here; I can’t always be looking down at the computer screen. If it’s truly vital to the call, put it out there. If not for me, maybe another officer in the area can hear the radio traffic and keep an eye out for the suspect car, missing person, etc. Other officers don’t always pull up my call screen, but they can definitely hear it on the radio.

Look. I know I’m not perfect and I don’t expect you to be. However, we can all self-evaluate and become better public servants. One way that dispatchers are judged is by their demeanor. The day-to-day stuff. I get that sometimes you need me to standby while you’re on 911 with a hysterical parent. I know there are priorities and emergencies take precedence over me needing some information (that I could potentially just be too lazy to figure out on my own). But when it’s not a pressing need and your stress levels are not in the red levels, don’t be rude to me if it’s not warranted. Some dispatchers truly hate their job, or their life, or their spouse…but don’t take it out on me. I may be getting your attitude unnecessarily. Some dispatchers can be perpetually rude to the point that I don’t want to deal with you. Speaking with you puts me in a bad mood. I don’t want your bad juju. I’m just trying to contact you because I need to find out something or pass on information. I’m not calling you to hear your sunny disposition. But with these dispatchers, I am direct and to the point. No chatter, no horseplay. I want to be surgical with my information. Get in, get out, move on. If I keep it short and to the point, I can achieve what I want without being yelled at. Much like “the Soup Nazi” in Seinfeld, there are dispatchers you have to treat similarly. Place your order and step down. No nonsense or you may get the wrath.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are the dispatchers who are extremely friendly. Always willing to socialize, or share food, or laugh with you. These dispatchers are almost as rare as Sasquatch, but they do exist. And when they do, they are a treat to be around. You get your information with no additional stress. No issues. Honestly, I understand dispatchers have a stressful job. So if one of these “Sasquatch” dispatchers is suddenly in a bad mood or forgets to print something out for me, I give them some leeway. I am more forgiving and understanding that things happen. These dispatchers have invested in their friendship bank with officers and are able to get away more with oversights and problems.

Speaking of problems, we’ve all had them. Lines get crossed and feelings get hurt. It happens. But it is extremely frustrating to know that some dispatchers can get away with acting how they act. Most of the time you just swallow your pride and deal with the problem internally. It does little good to officially complain. Officers need to let minor issues go for the times that major problems arise. Even then, most problems get reported to a supervisor and then….nothing. All we hear back is “they’re civilians, we can’t really do much.” That's crap! You have supervisors over these problem children dispatchers. Solve problems! Make things better so in the future you avoid the potential for somebody getting hurt.

Of course, these observations are true but slightly exaggerated. Not every dispatcher is awful, or speaks too much, or is a problem. Truth is, most of them are extremely nice professionals who don’t get enough credit for their role in being first responders. Most dispatchers do an extremely hard job and do it well. There are just a few who have quirks or issues that stick in our collective heads. Actually there are some dispatchers that I’m amazed can answer the phones and deal with radio traffic. I would’ve been busy watching the muted television or playing Candy Crush on my phone…I know my limits. So, to the dispatchers who perform their role and can communicate clearly, accurately, and efficiently I say thank you. You dispatchers make the job easier for the officers. To the ones who are lacking in these areas, self-evaluate and improve. Because us officers are watching and forming our opinions of you—justified or not.