Today I had the pleasure of heading out to Kollen Park in Holland with my family and friends to enjoy the Maranda Park Party. There were many things to sample and police, fire, and ems were on hand to offer some excellent tips. My son was also able to walk through an AMR EMS truck to see what all was inside. As I stood there waiting for my son to come out the other side a paramedic came from around the truck and started giving out stickers to the kids. I asked what unit number he was and I introduced myself saying that I was a supervisor and the county I worked for. He gave a big smile and shook my hand. "One of the unsung heroes huh? You guys get a lot of flack but I couldn't do what you do."
It made me feel good to get some recognition for what my co-workers and I do. He said that at least they are face to face where we usually get no closure and he's right. A lot of people don't know this but it's not all the time that we get any closure. I remember giving CPR instructions to someone and the call was horrifying. I heard the paramedics in the background and I told the caller they did a great job. I hung up the phone and I had a second or so to get myself together and another call came in. That's how it is in dispatch. We take a bad call and move on to the next one. There is no time to reflect on the call. People need our help so we go on until the shift is up or we get a moment to think about everything that had previously occurred. Sometimes it's so busy that by the time we get a chance to think about that bad call we have already taken ten or more that it just falls through the cracks.
The recognition is rare but it feels good when we get it. I remember back around the time when I first started and it was winter time. I took a call from a frantic mom whose children had been sledding and the youngest slid down the hill and onto a pond. The little girl was right in the middle of it and her mom told me that she believed the ice was somewhat thin. I had already paged out the fire department, ems, and police and it was now time to play the waiting game. I kept the mom calm and instructed her to have her son wait out front for the responders. When they pulled up she began to thank me over and over. We hung up and her daughter was rescued from the middle of the pond. A few days later a co-worker was reading the local newspaper and she found a thank you note that was published in the paper by the family of the little girl and they personally thanked the dispatcher and all who were involved in saving their daughter. Till this day I still have that newspaper clipping. I have it as a reminder that some people out there do care about what we do for them. Thank you Mark with AMR for the kind words. Our job is hard but we love what we do. In the end it's not about the pay, it's about helping those in need whether we, the unsung heroes, are recognized or not.