It was Easter night and I went to work still dressed from going to Easter Mass and having dinner with my husband’s family. The atmosphere felt festive. I was scheduled on one of our hot channels where we dispatched and worked all our emergency calls. Early in the evening a call popped up on my screen, a drowning. It was a six year old boy who had been pulled from his pool. The family was in a panic and he wasn’t responding. Because of the time-sensitive nature of the situation, the police respond, as well as, the fire department. To make a long story short, when the smoke cleared, the child died. My heart ached because I had a son the same age and I just felt things like this, tragedies, should not happen on holidays, especially ones that celebrate life over death. In my state of feeling incredibly sad, I got a call from the fire department dispatcher. I don’t remember why he called but he commented on the little boy stating, “He should have known how to swim.” At that point, I saw red. My son still refused to learn how to swim. I just didn’t like the self-righteous judgment in the dispatcher’s tone. After I hung up, I got a friend to relieve me on the radio. I walked down the hall into the bathroom. My anger soon transformed back into sadness. I cried hard sitting in that bathroom stall. When I think about that night traces of sadness still lingers in my heart and probably will forever.
The more I think about my time as a dispatcher, I realize there are a lot of experiences and stories to share. It was an exciting time and I learned a lot about human emotion, other people’s, as well as, my own. I look forward to John Will’s book coming out, not only because it’s always cool to see my own words in print, but also so I can sneak a glimpse into the experience of other first responders.
About The Author:
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000. Her credits include Law Enforcement Technology, Police, Law and Order, Police Times, Beyond the Badge, Michigan State Trooper, Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and Chief of Police. She writes two columns a month for Officer.com. Michelle worked for the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. Currently, Michelle works as the Administrative Coordinator at Jasper Mountain a residential psychiatric facility for children. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fundraising coordinator for the Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue, playing her bass, working on her young adult novel Desert Ice and raising her two sons in a small town in Oregon.