I really can be neglectful, can’t I? Sorry about that. Life has a way of getting in the way sometimes and when that happens, it’s my writing that suffers. My escape, my outlet, my release is the last thing that gets satisfied. I really have to learn to be a little meaner with myself and make sure my needs are met too.
When I left off way back when, Mike had just learned he was hired as a casual 911 call-taker. As excited as we were, Mike was a little nervous as well. He would be dealing with people moments after what could possibly be the most traumatic times in their lives. I had no concerns. He’s a wonderful people person and with his radio background and firefighting experience I knew in my heart that this was the job for him. He would be responsible for communicating with police, fire and ambulance as well as public works calls after hours and anything else that cropped up.
The area of Cape Breton that he would be covering had 3 divisions: Central, East and North. He grew up in “North” so he was very familiar with the area. He lives in “Central” and was pretty familiar with it but East was somewhat of a different story. One night he wanted to get in the car and go driving. I asked him why. He told me that he would feel much better sending police officers or firefighters out on a call if he knew where he was sending them. He wanted to learn the streets, he wanted to know the landmarks and he wanted to feel confident that when he was sending them on a call he could visualize exactly where they were going, what was around and what they could possibly encounter. So we drove…..and we drove….and we drove…..and we drove some more. I couldn’t imagine how there wasn’t a street left in the Municipality that we hadn’t driven on. And not only once. He’d go back a few nights later and quiz himself trying to get from here to there in the shortest distance possible. We did this for weeks. (Exciting lives we led, huh?) In the end it definitely paid off though as he was much more comfortable sitting behind the computers talking to the people on the phone and relaying the information to the emergency personnel out in the field.
Shortly after he started working it meant a couple of trips for courses and certification. There was some very sensitive information he would be accessing and he had to be trained in those areas. He also had to be trained in how to handle 911 calls. He started working in September and Matthew was born October 7. A week after Matthew was born he had to travel for one of these courses. That was fun. He was gone for 5 days. Let’s just say I’m really glad Mom was just upstairs. We made it through with no major catastrophes.
Over the next 4 years Mike excelled at his job. He was very professional on the radio, he had the respect of practically every police officer on the force ad he took great care and pride in his work. He was still a casual employee but he was getting lots of hours. Too many at times. There was one Christmas I can remember he worked 13 night shifts in a row. That was rough. The shifts ran 6-6 and they rarely had a chance to ever close their eyes even for a minute during the night. I was back to work after my maternity leave so he’d come home from night shift and if Matthew was awake, so was Mike until Matthew went for a nap. Looking back now I don’t know how he did it. There were a few nights he just didn’t answer the phone when they called him to go out. He just couldn’t especially if it was a trying day with Matt. There weren’t many mind you and he’d go out the door at the last minute if need be. He loved his job but wished something more permanent and stable would come along.
One night about 4 years after he started working with 911 he was talking to a fellow firefighter who asked him if he was going to apply for the firefighting jobs that were coming up. Mike knew nothing about it. Nothing was posted in the Communications Centre. After some investigating he learns that the closing date for applications has passed and that indeed the job posting did not make it to the Centre. That’s it. His lifelong dream of being a paid firefighter is out the window. Or is it??
Until next time…