Sherri Stigler

Sherri Stigler

Story Vault

By Sherri Stigler

Truth be told, and horrific as it sounds (to me at least), I have been in this crazy business of public safety for more than 30 years. In my opinion, public safety in general tends to operate like a big wheel. The spokes include the different entities, such as law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and, of course, EMS services.

I have been privileged to serve as an undercover county drug officer, a municipal police officer, and a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Great spokes, indeed. But the most important job I’ve ever had was that of public safety dispatcher. I think of that job as the hub; the part of the wheel that makes the spokes turn, the part that connects them and makes them work in unison to move the entire unit down the road.

If you are a hub, I hope you recognize how very valuable you are to your organization. People depend on you for lots of reasons: information, backup, and protocol instructions over the phone until help arrives on-scene. This idea of being the first, first responder is absolutely the truth. Never doubt your worth.

The hubs make the wheels turn and make the difference when it comes to the effect on the outer tire, which is very much like the community we serve. Tires are weird creatures. They wear differently. They fray, and they lose air. Sometimes they blow. They are unpredictable, at best. It is the wheel’s lot in life to serve the tire we bear and keep the spokes in motion.

This is where the “rubber hits the road,” folks!

In every hub’s life, there comes a time where we recognize our rust. When that happens, it’s best to let new hubs take over the central work, which I have done. Ultimately, as manager, I am a hubcap. I protect my hubs from burnout, apathy, and liability. I make sure training is top quality. We are an important part of a wheel on a never-ending journey.

My journey as a writer began a long time ago.

Thanks to my mother, who is a word wizard, I inherited the love of setting words to print, and, more importantly, to the heart. My writing has been concentrated on feature articles in regional print magazines. But honestly, raising a growing family and juggling nonstop career demands bumped the pen aside for the past several years. I owe a debt of gratitude to The Journal staff for welcoming me to the fold, and to Dr. Jeff Clawson for creating, nurturing, and sharing the power of the protocol. The IAED is the driving force that has allowed public safety dispatch to transcend from being “just a job” to being a highly respected and valued profession.

I am committed to using the power of this space to share advice about keeping all parts of our wheels in balance. Sometimes, we feel out of alignment. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep before you came to work. Maybe a co-worker, a supervisor, or your spouse is on his or her last nerve.

How can we help others in the comm. center feel appreciated and valued? What is it that ticks you off or makes you tick?

My hope is that we can, together, fill each other’s toolboxes with items valuable to our profession so that we can fix what needs fixing and continue to drive our forward momentum. If you have thoughts to share, whether you are a hub, hubcap, spoke, or some other part of this crazy wheel of public safety communications, I will welcome them!

Both hands on the wheel, folks! Let’s roll!