I am a single mom. No, a supermom. I like to say I have two jobs – my day job, and my rest of the day job. Most days the lines between the two blur and it all just seems to run together in one long marathon. But with the kind of work I do (marketing) – even if I’m working late, I can at least check my job at the door at the end of the day. Probably not so for those who work in 9-1-1.
As the administrator of the PSAPs’ Finest Award program for NICE, I've had the distinct honor of getting to know a number of wonderful people who work in 9-1-1 over the years. One such person, also a single mom, wasChristine ("Chrissy") Miller. She didn’t win the top honor of Telecommunicator of the Year in 2006, but her story was so riveting I felt it needed to be told.
August 25, 2006 started off much like any other day for Chrissy. She awoke at 6 a.m., got her kids ready for school, and then headed off to work her shift as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator at the Lehigh County 9-1-1 Center. As she made the eight mile commute to work, Chrissy thought about the upcoming weekend – blissfully unaware of what the day would bring.
On that Friday, Chrissy was working alongside five other telecommunicators at the Lehigh Center when at approximately 11 a.m., a call came in. The phone operator on the other end of the line calmly explained she was transferring a call from a male holding a gun to his head. In the next two grueling hours, Chrissy would endure verbal abuse, propositions, threats, and profanities. “He was constantly cocking the gun. I could hear him moving the barrel,” said Chrissy.
An hour and a half later, the standoff ended peacefully. Despite large amounts of weapons being confiscated from the man's home, not a single officer or first responder was injured. Chrissy's supervisor told me shebelieved that Chrissy’s compassion, the fact that she was not easily offended, and her ability to project empathy were the reasons there was a successful conclusion to the situation. "It could have ended badly if not for Chrissy. She was meant to answer the phone that day.”
Over the years, I've felt fortunate that my job has brought me closer to so many wonderful people, like Chrissy, who personify what it is to be human and superhuman all wrapped in one. Their stories have inspired me.
What inspires you?