For the longest time we had a poster hanging up in our Center that said “Today I…” in big letters then was filled in with several examples of what a dispatcher can/may do in a shift. It included things such as ‘Helped find a lost child’, ‘Instructed someone on CPR’, and ‘Calmed a frantic victim’. I would sometimes look at it and check off which things I’d done that day, that week or that month. And I was proud of the job I was doing. On the difficult days or after heartbreaking calls it reminded me that we are making a difference and gave me what I needed to put my big girl panties on and pull through another shift with a good attitude and positive outlook.
That poster is no longer hanging up. I’m not sure when it was taken down and not put back up or why, but lately I find myself thinking on it. I find I am no longer encouraged to be there anymore personally. I am still very proud of the work I do and go in everyday and give 110%. People call and need us there on their worst days and it is our job to make sure that every day we are there is our best day – and I do that because it’s my job. Maybe it’s due to our Center being short staffed, over worked and over tired for so long now and not knowing when that will get better. Maybe it’s because I spend more time there (or trying to get some sleep in before going back) than I seem to spend with my family. Or could it be that I have just heard too much and been involved in too many heart wrenching or stressful situations over the years and my body and brain are just saying “Enough!”? Or possibly this is just normal Dispatcher fatigue and burn out. A phase that I will get through soon (hopefully) and then can put in another nine years before it hits again. Perhaps it is all of these things…I don’t know.
I do know that I want to get there each day again eager and ready to sign on to my console. I want to get excited butterflies again when I hear the word ‘Pursuit’ or ‘Code 33’ and know it’s my time to shine as a Dispatcher. I want to sigh contentedly and high five my partners after a job well done where we were all needed to shine together as a team and did, instead of just saying ‘thanks for the backup’ and moving onto the next situation. Mostly I want a new poster. One that says: Today I…enjoyed time with my family, helped the community I care about, smiled just because, shared laughter, kept the people I care about safe out in the field at home and in the community, felt content as I lay my head down at the end of my day. Most importantly though I want it to say Today I …did everything I could, helped everyone that needed me and shined the whole time.
When I used to shine: