It's not a glamorous job. It's not a job that you dream of as a child. And it's definitely not a job that anyone can do. When someone would ask me what I did, they would always have a look of "WHOA" when I told them. In our area 911 doesn't actually ring all day long. The business lines however never stop ringing. A large part of answering that phone is dealing with a public's family drama. The number of custody issues and family arguments was shocking when I first started...then you just get used to it. Last night a friend came over for a glass of wine and I shared with her my dispatch ghosts.
Dispatch ghosts are the calls that effect you and your life....forever
For me it's the voice of wife begging her husband not to leave her, too hysterical to do CPR. And the haunting calm of a woman after she had found her husband had hung himself. Seconds later reality hit and she began screaming uncontrollably. Every dispatcher has a dozen stories of the calls that never leave you. Some can keep it locked away and it doesn't effect them as much. Others, like me, aren't so effective at compartmentalizing. Our deputies had it so much worse, they have to see things that are right out of movies. Normal humans would crawl into holes and hide from the world. But these brave souls deal with these horrific situations and just keep going. But none of this caused me to quit.
Truthfully I loved dispatching.
There is an adrenaline rush when things are moving and a situation is heated. And somehow I felt like I was helping people.
My position with the county did not come without difficulties. Let me re-phrase...it almost didn't happen.
I was wrongly accused of inappropriate behavior before I even walked in the door.
The deputy involved proceeded to bash me to the other dispatchers in my department. I didn't stand a chance. My first trainer all but told me to quit. She warned me that dandruff on my shirt would be reason enough to be written up. My 2nd trainer was terrifying (still is) and I went home and cried everyday. I almost quit, I thought maybe I was wrong and this was not a job that I could handle. But I stuck it out thanks to my third amazing trainer (thank you Debbie). I really started to feel like I was good at this job and started to really love what I was doing. So from November 2007 until July of this year I was a dispatcher. Then came Moose
We knew that Moose would be our last child. (My lovely Moose) I felt so guilty not being at home with him. Micah wasn't working and took the role of stay at home dad. It made me angry. That was supposed to be my job, I was supposed to be at home with the kids. I started to resent Micah for not having a full-time position and taking my place at home. It didn't make our family life pleasant. Then I'd go to work and deal with the added drama of working with too many women .
In the end I stopped giving it my all and being a dispatcher is not a job you can phone in. There was no happy place for me to go. At home I felt like I was a bad mother.At work I felt like a failing employee..I couldn't win.
The practical answer to "why I quit" is because they screwed up my schedule. Just before shift change my boss told me that I would have to move to another shift. Micah's schedule had already been set. So it meant that we would work the same days.My husband is a seasonal firefighter he works 24hr shifts and I worked 12hr shifts. Our children would essentially have no parents from Thursday through Saturday. And the cost of childcare for that amount of time was ridiculous. But that's not why I quit.
A dispatcher and friend had the painful loss of her mother just before I quit. She had to travel across the country. When she came back to work I had a few moments to talk to her. She was sitting at her desk and the tears started to fill her eyes. She was so busy burying her mother and traveling that she never got a chance to grieve. And there she was stuck behind a headset...probably before she was ready. I told her we needed to go to brunch and chat. In my mind I thought I'd let her tell me stories about her mom and then I'd make her laugh. But we never got to have that brunch. Two weeks later Polly lost nearly all her bodily functions. They diagnosed her with Landry's syndrome...but it took forever for them to come to that conclusion. She couldn't breath on her own, couldn't move. Polly has a teenage son, who was nearly alone for all of this. I can imagine the prayers she said in her mind, praying she'd live to see him graduate. All in an instant.
That is why I quit. I quit because one day you lose your mom and the next you could die. Polly's situation woke me up and made me realize that although I love dispatching, I hated the drama.
I don't want to wake up tomorrow and realize that I wasted my life being miserable. I have amazing children that I need to be happy for. I have a wonderful husband that I need to be sane for. Wasting any more time being so unhappy that you cry.....it just wasn't a way to live. I quit my job because I want to find my sparkle!