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Choose Your Impact

Ever since I got sick, I haven’t felt like much of an inspiration. To anyone. And especially not when it comes to running and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That is why I was surprised and more than grateful when Elle from Eat Run Sail tagged me for the Very Inspirational Blogger Award. Thank you, Elle! The truth is, Elle is just as much of an inspiration to me as she says I am to her and she has become a dear friend to me. There have been many days, especially right after my discharge from the hospital, where a simple not to say hello from her completely turned my day around. So many of you have inspired me to continue to keep fighting and believe in my recovery with just a few simple words. Just to be remembered makes all the difference in the world. Thank you all.
 By accepting this award I am supposed to:
  1. Display the logo somewhere on my blog
  2. Link back to the blog who nominated me
  3. List seven things about myself
  4. Nominate up to 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs
  5. Notify these bloggers that they have been nominated and of the awards requirements

I hope you don’t mind, but I am changing the rules a little bit.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably already know a few things about me. If not you can read My Story to find out more. I could probably come up with seven things I’ve never talked about before, but instead, I am going to talk about one very important thing.
Life is very fragile. And it was not until the last two years of my life – since my mom passed away and I almost did – that I came to realize just what impact that fragility has on an individual. Simple things make a difference. Decisions make a difference. It matters how you treat people. I never understood before and still don’t completely.
The person that I want to nominate for this award does not write a blog that I know of, and I know nothing about this person except for one thing:
This person a first responder.
This person reached out to me after I was talking to a mutual acquaintance about the tremendous responsibility that comes with my job as a 911 dispatcher. Not only the responsibility of learning and retaining a large amount of information, but the responsibility of making decisions that truly matter. A split second decision could make the difference between giving someone life-saving help or not. That responsibility sometimes falls solely on the shoulders of the 911 dispatcher and the knowledge he or she has previously attained.
That is a hugeresponsibility that suddenly and effectively brings the fragility of life into certainty. And I am still learning how to process and understand exactly what this responsibility means. On top of that, I feel like very few people aside from those I work with really understand what it means every time the phone rings. I thought I understood, but really I didn’t until I was the one on the other end of the line. I knew it was important, yes, but it is so much more than that.
As the reality started to sink in, I started to panic when these words arrived in my inbox:

Congratulations on the new job. I was told that you were maybe feeling a little down on yourself with your training. When you find out that you’ve been hired to do something you love, your first thought is one of happiness. Then it sinks in: “What do I do now?” First and foremost, you would not have been hired if somebody didn’t believe in you, and felt that you were the best person to do the job.  

Here are the 2 most important pieces of advice I can give. First, have an outlet. You’re going to be sending cops, firefighters and EMT’s to some pretty horrible things.  The people who need that help will be talking to you on the phone. People like me will be responding. We’re seeing firsthand what you’re hearing. You’re human and it will affect you. Have somebody away from the job who will let you de-compress when you need to. 

Second, someday, you will have the experience of your job, and the confidence that goes with it. You may begin to see calls as “routine.” The best way for me to say this is, what may be routine to you may be the worst day of the other person’s life.  I always keep this in mind when I respond to a call.

We’re all here to do a job, to make a difference, no matter how small. I’m sure you’ll do a great job, Sara. 

We literally choose the impact we have on someone’s life. We may never even understand that impact, but it is there regardless. 

No matter what we do in our day-to-day job, it matters how we treat people – the tone in our voice, the words we say and the decisions we make. In my case, it might really be the worst day of that person’s life. Can I make it better? Probably not. Can I make it worse? Yes. I can be rude or short or inpatient or not thinking. I remember vividly the police officer who called me to tell me Mom had been found in the park. I don’t know his name or number or anything, but I remember his words even better than I do some of my last conversations with her. He was kind, compassionate and patient. He came to the hospital too and talked to me and my family. I still couldn’t tell you who he was, but that he cared enough to be there. I want to make that kind of impression on someone too in their time of need.

Until the next mile marker,