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Public Employee Press
First in a series
My mom filled out the application. She said, "You have to take the test on Saturday!"
I passed. It was right on time because I had just had a baby. It was a city job, and I needed the benefits.
But I didn't know what I was getting into.
We have a very stressful job.
Two weeks ago, an elderly guy called and said his wife just shot herself in herself in the mouth. I said, "Let me get you an ambulance." But I think she died.
When I hung up, I couldn't stop hearing him crying. I said to my coworkers, "Wow. Twenty-six years later and this still affects me."
All the dispatchers, we experienced 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.
People screamed to us for help on September 11th: "I'm trapped on the 87th floor!"
My sister is a cop. I called the 28th Precinct in Harlem, but no one knew where she was. I started screaming, "I can't find my sister!"
She was hurt running from the smoke at Ground Zero when an explosion caused by the collapse of one of the towers pushed her under a car. There was a lot of noise. Then it went silent. She later told me she thought she was dead.
A man helped her, and she was taken to Woodhull Hospital. She had someone reach out to me. It was four hours later.
You get all kinds of calls. We have kids who are shot. There are suicide calls. Family disputes. Most are serious. But I got one call from a woman who wanted help changing a light bulb! We learn to cope.
When I worked the 3 to 11 shift, I would come home at night, sit on the bed for an hour, watching the Weather Channel. You can't fall asleep right away.
It's a thankless job. The department doesn't thank us enough.
So, when a person says, "Operator, thank you for helping me today," you really feel good. We have this nurturing part of ourselves. You like to help people.