Saving a Life

Victoria Fox, Communications Operator, Hayward Police/Fire Departments

This occurred more than a decade ago. I received a call from a frightened, distraught woman. She purchased a pair of shoes that he husband disapproved of, either because she was not allowed to spend money or buy anything without being with him. He had beaten her with the shoes in front of their children and left the house. Her situation was this: she wanted to leave him because of ongoing abuse, but because of their Muslim faith, it seemed impossible. He had complete control over her. Even her own family sided with him and told her she would never see her children again (one child was a brand-new baby) and would be shunned from both sides of the family. I kept her on the phone and got her in touch with our Youth and Family Services Division, our in-house counselors. I knew if there was help to be had, they could do it, as they had many resources including confidential shelter for battered spouses. The counselor called me to tell me that the woman was grateful to me and they were going to secretly meet with her. That is where I left it. As Emergency Communications Operators, our job is to connect the emergency with the help….I have never been one to “have to know” the outcome. To me, it is enough to make the connection….I know I have done what I was meant to do.

Now, fast forward two years. I got a non-emergency call from a woman (I don’t remember the reason), who told me she was the woman who had been beaten with her own shoes. She was bubbly, happy, and confident. She told me that connection I had made for her got her out of the house, got her legal assistance and she did not lose her children. She thanked me for what I had done. I still get emotional when I think of the impact I had on her life, and her children’s lives.

This is is what we do all day, every day. Change peoples’ lives. So often we don’t know the good we have done for people, but that is not our job. Our job is to take the emergency and communicate it to the ones who respond in person…WE are the connection, the communicators, the in-betweens.

I have been in this profession for 29 years and can’t imagine doing anything else. This is my life. I dedicate it to the people I serve. I am here to expedite whatever help they need, be it from the fire department, medical aid, or the police. So often, I am the bridge to the rest of their lives.