911 Dispatcher Receives Some Help Instead Of Giving It

By A Friend • February 11, 2019

I am a 911 dispatcher. I take emergency calls, offer emergency medical instruction until EMS arrives, and dispatch units to calls as well.

I've been doing it for about four years, and I've heard some of the worst things you can imagine. It takes a toll on you, mentally and emotionally. Usually, I'm pretty good at dealing with the aftermath but today I'm on a mandatory 16 hour shift so I'm tired, cranky, and just overall done with today... so of course that's when I get a suicide call.

Minor child hung herself, mom discovered her and cut her down. I already have the call over for dispatcher to get the ambo rolling. Mom wants to try CPR so I start walking her through the process.

I don't know if it was because the daughter was my own son's age or the way the mother was begging her daughter not to go or the way she was obviously choking down the hysteria while she counted those compressions with me, but this call broke me. I told the supervisor I needed a break when I was able to disconnect and drove to the gas station to get a drink. I was siting in the parking lot in front of the store and I broke down. Ugly crying, chest heaving, panic attack break down. And I just kept imagining what that mother was going through.

Someone knocked on my window and I look over to see the little old woman who owns the gas station. The store is about 5 minutes from the call center, so all the dispatchers are pretty familiar faces to her. She motioned for me to roll down the window, which I did. She handed me a to-go cup of hot chocolate and a plastic bag with stuff in it, cupped my face with one hand and told me "You do good, too. Remember the ones you saved when you can't forget the ones you weren't able to."

Then she smiled and walked back into the store. The bag had a double chocolate chip muffin, a bag of Swedish Fish, a pack of tissues, and my favorite energy drink in it.

Thanks, Margaret, for being there when I didn't even know I needed someone to be there. And for remembering your customers so well that you understood why I was crying and knew exactly what to say to help me through it. And thanks for the care package, too.

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