Triggers are Stranger Things
August 24, 2016. That’s the day I founded the #IAM911 movement. So much has happened since then. The movement has gone global and stories have been shared millions of times now. They continue to come in and they are shared daily. There is much to the story but not all has been told as often. It’s June 20, 2019. It’s about 7 a.m. and I am sitting in the living room of my in-laws home in the most soft love seat I have ever sat on. I think this every time I sit on it but since 2016 it brings me back to those early days after I launched the movement and it’s popularity exploded almost overnight.
During that time a new show on Netflix had captured viewers and I kept hearing, “have you watched Stranger Things yet?” I had not. I wanted to watch it because my favorite genre is horror and it looked really good. I held off and held off and finally, after the APCO national conference in Orlando, Florida, and while working on the #IAM911 movement, I started watching the show after everyone had gone to bed. I was hooked after the first episode and started binge watching the season. The show drew me in and I could relate to the characters and connected with them.
One night, I was working on stories and I decided to take a break and watch the season finale of the show. This was just the first season and I was excited to watch but sad that I would have to wait until the next season came out. Before I started the show I was looking at the #IAM911 story I shared as the one to start the movement.
I will never forget the night I took that call. This story shares but a glimpse into what I heard. In all honesty I thought it was a blur, something that happened so fast that I couldn’t remember it but it was something that had stuck with me. I had buried it but it was still there and thinking about it now, it always will be. I used this story because when it started coming back I needed to get it out and to start the movement I wanted it to be in your face and raw. I wanted people to understand what we go through in a short story. It happened, people understood and they were sharing #IAM911 stories all over and again, we continue to do so daily.
So here I am, sitting on this love seat, getting ready to watch the season finale. I have my headphones on, I’m watching and I am at the edge of this seat. But then I get to a part where one of the main characters is found and CPR is being done on him. One of the characters, the one performing CPR, is an officer and as I’m watching, I begin to cry. I cry harder when he says, “Come on kid!”
Now, you might be wondering why this hit me so hard? It’s just a show right? Maybe I invested too much into the characters but maybe it’s because it triggered something in me. See, the night I took the call that would later be the inspiration for the #IAM911 movement story that would start it all was playing out right in front me. That night a teenager lost his life. He had flipped his four wheeler and when I got the call the parents had just found their son not breathing. I got everyone enroute and an officer was close by as well. I had the parents doing CPR. Their screams, heavy breathing, and cries are things I will never forget. In fact…I can hear them now.
When the officer arrived I heard him over the radio say that he was there and running out to find the family. I told them an officer was there and I heard him through the phone say he would take over CPR. The phone was put down and the line remained open. I was attached to this call, to this family, the injured teenager, and of course, my officer. I couldn’t hang up. I listened as the officer performed CPR. I had held my breath and continued to listen and I heard my officer say, “Come on kid! Come on buddy!” He said it over and over but eventually, I heard that last breath. I hung up as EMS got there.
It’s interesting how things stick with us and what can trigger memories and emotions. As I watched the CPR scene on Stranger Things I lost it. Hearing the officer say, “Come on kid” made it that much more real for me. When I took that call I was simply listening and imagining what was going on there but seeing something similar on this show made me lose it. Maybe it was meant to happen this way? Maybe I needed to experience it this way so that I could manage it better? I don’t really know but I will say this, I do feel better about it. Whatever triggers we may have it’s good to face them in order to manage them. It might not be the best way for everyone but it has done wonders for me. Although this call will stay with me, it helped me start something that has helped countless dispatchers share their stories, manage their triggers, and heal by gaining a form of closure through the power of storytelling.
Thank you all for sharing your stories in the beginning and in the present as this not only proves the difference between the clerical class and protective class but most importantly has shown all of you that you are not alone in this journey. This has turned into a form of peer support like no other through the Imagine Listening sessions and people around the world are learning from you.
#IAM911…the movement continues