Fifteen years have passed yet it seems like yesterday. For most of us, the events of September 11, 2001, are as clear as they were that fateful morning. We each have a unique view of the tragedy that unfolded and I am no different. No, I’m not a cop or a firefighter. Yet, I’m not necessarily a civilian either. My work as 911 Operator puts me somewhere in between.
The battle for those in my industry to be recognized as first responders continues daily. Not only because of the effects of the calls we take but also the tragedy of losing the people we see and speak with every single day. These are more than co-workers to us. They are family. I have a mantra that I repeat to new officers when I dispatch for them. NOT ON MY SHIFT. I will do everything I can to keep you safe. Please, do your part as well. Stop and think and be the best you can be. I realize the mantra means little in situations where they are required to risk their lives to save someone else. But it’s an example of how close these people are to their dispatcher’s heart. Our goal is to make sure each and every one of them make it home today.
On September 11, 2001, four hundred and eleven emergency workers lost their lives. Even though they were not my co-workers, the faces of the men and women I dispatch for filled my mind. Their wives, husbands, parents, and children who would never see them again broke my heart. Their dispatchers who could no longer tell them, “NOT ON MY SHIFT,” because today they were the one working the radio–the one listening to them die.
I will never forget what our country endured that horrific day or the way so many people came together to help in any way possible. I will never forget the civilians who were slaughtered. I will never forget the emergency service workers who risked their lives and lost. I will never forget the emergency service workers who did make it home, forever changed. I will never forget the dispatchers whose scars will never heal and hearts are forever broken.