Something More

Lacey Shadrick, 911 Communications Training Officer/ATAC, Kershaw County E-911

September 11 2001, I sat and watched as our world changed as well as my view of the world, the blinders were off. The naïve idea that I was in control of my life and that I could protect and shelter my children from evil was shattered. I was 19 I had a sixteen month old daughter and was pregnant with my middle son. I remember watching her play so happy and carefree as those towers fell and our country mourned. I knew that carefree happiness she felt was something I would never feel again, because I was now a mother who just realized how silly I had been thinking I was in control. That night after I tucked my happy little girl into bed and watched her drift off to sleep, I lay in bed I thinking there has to be something “more” I have to find a way to make a difference in this world. I know almost everyone that night felt the way I did; we just wanted to find a way to help in the aftermath of something so horrific. We all needed to fill that huge hole of helplessness with something meaningful and good.

Ten years later, the sting of that day had weakened but the wounds never healed. I am working in the mental health field, feeling burnt out. Everyday felt like that movie groundhog day, I was complacent and knew that this was not that something “more” I wanted. I was at work reading the newspaper, scanning the classifieds and I came across the help wanted section there was an ad for a dispatcher position. I applied and was given an interview and to my amazement I was hired. Little did I know that my world yet again was going to be forever changed. I had no clue what being a dispatcher entailed, boy was I in for a shock! I think during my first 2 months of training I wrote my 2 weeks’ notice at least 10 times. I felt in over my head, and to be honest terrified. I had amazing trainers who would not let me give up, and I thank god they saw something in me that I didn’t.

Here I am seven years later, I am no longer with my starting agency but I am still a dispatcher and I have recently been given the honor of being training officer. When they say it gets in your blood, man they weren’t kidding. But for me it has become so much more than just a job. This is my family, those who wear a head set and those on the other side of the radio. The world we live in is so drastically different than it was 17 years ago. It seems like every time the news comes on there is something in it that makes us question what happened to humanity, kindness and compassion in others.  I am lucky I have the chance to make a difference in someone’s life. I get to be that beacon of hope, kindness and compassion. As corny as it sounds I get to give someone hope in the worst moment of their life when they feel as if they have none, and to me that means everything.

I have the amazing honor to work with some pretty outstanding people, people with superhero strength that choose not to wear a cape, but instead a headset. Our center is considered small by most people’s standards and because of that we don’t get the same recognition others from larger centers get. What those people don’t see behind the walls of our small town center are the super heroes I call family. These are the best of the best. When that phone rings we never know what is happening on the other end. It could be as simple as a stray dog complaint, or as heartbreaking as a mother holding her lifeless child. We are taught to be strong in spite of the fact that everything in our fiber is telling us to fall apart. We get through those moments together as a family, and many nights we drive home never knowing how the call ended. Closure is something we are seldom given.

Each day we get to change a life, to restore someone’s hope in humanity, and for me that is something I will never take lightly. I never imagined 17 years ago I would be where I am now. I can honestly say I am completely fulfilled and in love with what I do. I’ve finally found it, being that calm voice in the dark is my something “more”. I hope to leave my small corner of the world a little bit better than it was when I found it one call at a time.