If you know me on Facebook, you've probably already seen this.
I don't keep up with TV much these days, so other than the headlines that I see when I am online, I haven't been immersed in the nonstop news coverage lately. However, I want to share this audio clip of the radio traffic from the horrific Aurora, CO shooting last week. Ironically, I sat in a movie theatre for nearly three hours on Wednesday morning, a sneak preview before the sneak preview for our local law enforcment community. I sat there in the dark with a dozen armed off-duty officers while we watched a movie about a masked man who was a misunderstood hero who refused to give up.
A quote from the movie "A hero can be anyone."
Listen to (this) at your discretion. I have been a 911 operator and Police & Fire Dispatcher for 10 years, a police cadet and intern for 5 years prior to that. Fifteen years of "exposure" and this audio was very stressful for me to listen to. Ten years of taking a gamut of calls and being on the other end of pursuits, fires, shots fired, and fights by no means makes me immune to any of the emotion that comes along with witnessing, in audio or in text, the absolute terror of what happened in that theatre and in the very long minutes afterwards. My thoughts:
I have so much to say about this...not sure where to start...this is all of us, could be any of us, any dispatcher, any cop, any paramedic, anyone who handles this kind of chaos on a regular basis...it's all of our nightmares...that was my first thought when I heard about it, how the rescuers handled it? How did they possibly do it? For us in dispatch, its not just about saving citizens and the innocent, it's listening to it all go to absolute shit in the background and not being able to throw enough resources at at a situation fast enough, listening to the body count stack up, not knowing if all the suspects are accounted for, and always doing all we can to keep all of our responders safe...it is nothing but fight or flight, the collective holding of our breath, but moving as quickly as you can. It's counting down the seconds, the minutes, knowing how quickly the loss of life is permanent if you don't get EMS to a dying patient. This is what I do, this is what so many of you reading this do, but it doesn't make it any easier to listen to. I hear the stress and the anxiety from the officers, and yes, the horror of finding a child shot in a theater full of other bodies. I hear them asking and asking and asking for more help, I hear their voices quicken, and the pleading in their words as they watch people bleed and suffer. This dispatcher did an amazing job, I don't doubt for a second that she had incredible backup in her dispatch center with her. She was a beacon in a storm...a constant reassurance, the voice that said "I heard you, we're sending more, you're not alone". This is the recorded section of one very tragic, disastrous event that has the world's attention now, but this is the taste of the worst case scenario we are all trained to handle. For all those who responded to this tragedy in Colorado, may God be with you...job well done, may you never have to face anything like this again. For the families of the victims, I can only listen and watch from here and pray for you. We cannot keep senseless acts like this from happening, there will always be madmen, but there will always be the good guys, the officers, the firefighters, the dispatchers that will come along and fight the good fight, run towards the danger, and be willing to lay down their lives for another.
I've been participating in SheReadsTruth and the Daily Prayer Devotional - Day #8 was this verse which I read and journaled about just the other night, just before I started seeing the early morning headlines:
Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
My personal prayer after reading that verse: God, grant the wisdom & discernment to those who lead this Nation. Guide them, protect them, honor their sacrifice. Let them serve you & protect us and our rights to believe, speak, and preach your name freely. God, Bless America.
One constant I was taught as a child was to respect authority, even not so much as the man and politically my father was very vocal about who he thought should hold office, but we were always taught to honor the postion of authority that is how we learned to pray. Now I extend this prayer beyond our just our leaders and decision makers and make it for all of the dispatchers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, and our Military servicemen and woman who keep us safe every single day and every single night. I thank you, I stand next to you proudly, I honor your sacrifice. I know that no amount of gun-control or counter-intelligence will keep all the madmen at bay. Always and never simply do not exist in this world, but that will not keep us from fighting the good fight and continuing to sacrifice ourselves, in part and in whole, to keep others safe.
For all the responders from last Friday morning's tragedy, mostly nameless and faceless to those of us watching from afar, but unknown and unseen, you each rose above and beyond, unwavering. A hero that day was not just anyone, it was everyone. It was everyone of you who gave their all and will continue to bear the emotional brunt of what you saw and heard. Be proud, stand tall, and know that you did everything you could have done despite the circumstances. Peace may not come easily or consistenly over the next days, weeks, and months, but I pray that it will come eventually for each and everyone of you.