Hand Stretched Out

Heather Darata

Heather Darata

Dear Reader

This week was a hard one. My 40-year-old neighbor of 10+ years unexpectedly died. Annie had been sick and asked me to pick up a few things from the store for her and leave them at her doorstep. I did and knew that she got the bags in (even though I didn’t see her take them in).

That text I was expecting to receive from her letting me know I got everything she needed never arrived. I was surprised. I forgot about it for a few hours only to see a fire truck outside of our building later that night and then a few police officers coming up the stairs. Curious, I watched to see where they went. Uh oh, they went to her door.

When only the police officers remained, I thought maybe my neighbor had called for a reason other than medical help for herself. One of my other neighbors asked if I knew what was going on. I had to tell her that I only knew Annie had been feeling sick earlier. I didn’t find out what happened that night.

I sent Annie a text a few days later and wished her a better day, thinking that she had chosen not to share her troubles with me. The next day, my husband and I found out Annie died that night the first responders were here—less than two hours after I dropped off the groceries at her door.

Annie’s brother had found her deceased when he went to check on her that evening. I don’t know what was said between him and the emergency dispatcher, but I believe his call for help was answered by a caring, compassionate emergency dispatcher who did what they could for his situation.

After getting over the shock, I wished Annie would have told me that she needed to go to the hospital right away or that she would have at least called 911 for help. I feel a renewed desire to help where and when I can—especially since I can no longer change the outcome for Annie.

You never know what someone is going through—at least not entirely. As emergency dispatchers you are the lifeline they reach out to when something big in their life (or in the life of a loved one) changes. Thank you for all you do each and every shift and the compassion and customer service you offer to those calling for help. What you do matters—not only to the person who needs help, but for their loved ones too.