The holidays are a time for kicking back with family and friends. A day off from the real world for most, but there are some people we need working on Christmas. Some of them don't mind. That's the attitude at Rockford's 911 Center.
Employees know there has to be someone on the other end of that emergency call, even if it is a holiday.
"You have to view holidays like every other day." -says Rockford Fire Department 911 Telecommunicator Holly Johns-Frizzell.
Johns-Frizzell is working on Christmas, but she's used to this environment.
"My husband works these same hours that I do, my dad was a firefighter for Rockford Fire Department for 30+ years and it was always that way. Christmas could always be celebrated on another day because we didn't have a choice." -she says.
Johns-Frizzell and her co-workers know, taking 911 calls can be stressful. It's no different on holidays. Telecommunicators cope by staying consistent, whether it's a routine parking complaint or tragedies like fires and accidents.
"You have to have that ability to allow the call to go through you, process it, and kind of move on to the next call so you can provide the citizen the best service for either call." -says 911 Assistant Shift Supervisor Joseph Girouard.
If the job ever gets to be overwhelming, there's help available for workers picking up the phone. Organizations like the American Red Cross offer resources, as does the city.
"They have some critical-incidence stress debriefing teams that can come in if we need to. There's after-action reviews and incident reviews after a major incident that the telecommunicators are allowed to be a part of."
They stay-the-course for phone calls but when workers get a break there's Christmas cheer around the 911 Center. Employees brought in their favorite dishes for a potluck meal. Plus, decorations could be admired and Christmas music was playing all day long.
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