But we are secretaries...

Guest blog post written by
Nattalie - Dispatcher

It’s been a while since Hurricane Michael hit. I am still processing what has happened to my town. Even now driving around feels like a place I have never been to and don’t know.

People don't understand what we do, and probably do not care....they classify us as secretaries (or below). Not allowing us to be classified as high risk, like police, fire and EMS personnel. The average person couldn’t do our job. This is not for the faint of heart.

I have personally had some of the worst calls of my near 20 year career during this event. I have also been witnessed to many and heard stories from fellow coworkers of theirs. This is just a taste.....(I will leave out certain details)

- "I found someone unresponsive, I have started CPR, what do I do?" I am sorry, do CPR as long as you can, we are not responding to calls at this time.

- "I found a family member dead. I cannot make it without them... (sound and line goes dead)

- "My family member is having a medical emergency, please send us help I don’t want them to die". I am sorry we cannot get to you, please hold them close and tell them you love them.

- "Help my house is on fire, please send help." I’m sorry get out and stay away…we can’t get to you.

- "Please send me help, my child needs a breathing treatment, they are struggling and I can’t help them." I am sorry we can’t get to you, we have you on the list.

- "My family member is dead, what do I do? I can’t handle seeing them. Someone please help me." I’m sorry we cannot get to you. Cover them up, and move to a different part of your house.

- "Help me, I have run out of food." I am sorry the roads are not passable, we cannot get to you. We have you on the list

These are just a few of thousands of calls we took; all sounding the same. People screaming, begging, pleading, crying for help...and the only thing we can say is..."I’m sorry.”

We are serving them during this time all while having our families on our minds. Not knowing their safety. Not knowing the condition of our homes. Not knowing the conditions of our friends. Not knowing the conditions of co workers in the field.

But we are secretaries…

Could you handle the screams?
Could you handle the pleading?
Could you handle the begging?
Could you handle the death?

But we are secretaries...

This is a career ending event for some and a near career ending event for others. Counselors have been called in to help, but does it really?

But we are secretaries…

You don’t stop hearing the cries.
You don’t stop hearing the begging.
You don’t stop hearing the pleading.
You never forget a death.

But we are secretaries…

All helpless....sitting there.....no communication.....left in the dark....wondering...thinking the worst...because you have heard the worst.

Our "secretary" jobs are difficult under normal circumstances, but when a catastrophic event happens, its magnified by 1000...but we are secretaries.

I won’t go into much more detail right now, because I am still processing this event.

But what I do know is this......if you wanna make a difference...go to your officials and tell them all about your "secretaries" and the things they have to deal with. We SHOULD BE high risk, we SHOULD BE taken serious.

I dare anyone of the powers that be to sit in our chair for a day....and then tell me....

You are just a secretary.