Norman 911 dispatcher keeps one particular call in mind
NORMAN — Carolyn Glover sobbed throughout the 20-minute drive home.
More than two decades have passed, but a call Glover took on that summer’s afternoon is still a gut-check time hasn’t erased. The Norman 911 dispatcher hopes it never does.
“I have taken many calls of a horrific nature,” said Glover, 54. “But when anyone asks (about) the toughest call I have ever taken, this is the first one that instantly pops into my head.
“It was in the summer of about 1990 or 1991, and I took a phone call from a woman who was hysterical because there was a swim party at this house and one of the children had been found at the bottom of the pool.”
Remembering that day
The child was a 9-year-old boy. Individuals at the home had rescued the child from the pool and were trying to start CPR. Glover had CPR training and was talking them through this situation. Plus, someone on site also knew CPR, she said. The call ended when emergency units arrived. Glover never heard anything more about the child.
The call ended, but again, the effect it had on Glover remains.
“What struck me so about this call was that I had a son the same age as this child, who was at a friend’s house and they were planning on going swimming,” Glover said. “Now, I knew this was not the location my child was at, so I knew it could not be him. But what if? What if this was my child, what would I do, and how would I do it? Could I do it?”
At the end of her shift, she headed home and immediately started crying.
The tears continued.
“That one call brought home to me how fragile life is, and you have to be ‘on your game’ when you answer the phone or radio,” said Glover of Purcell. “Treat the person on the other end like they are family and care about what happens to them.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This call was the worst call I have ever taken because it hits so close to home, just like so many others.”
‘What ifs’ plentiful
Glover took her first dispatcher’s job in 1982 with the Purcell Police Department. But in 1984, she became a dispatcher with the Norman Fire Department and moved to the combined communications area at the Norman Police Department in 1988.
As Glover entered the profession, she had serious doubts — the “What ifs” were plentiful.
“What if someone dies, because of me? What if someone gets hurt, what if someone needs something and I am not able to provide that help?” she said. “What if, what if, what if? I talked myself out of applying for this job so many times. Every excuse in the book, you name it, yeah, I used that one.
“I was so scared of someone depending on me to help and me failing. The old saying of ‘Just wait, if God closes a window, get ready, He is about to open a door’ applies to my life.”
However, Glover learned that “not being there to help” can be just as bad.
“This is not a job for glory seekers or over-confidence,” she said. “Especially as a communications officer, you are the last person to find out the outcome of a call and the last one to get any credit for job well done. Confidence is needed but over-confidence just brings heartache. Every time I start thinking, I got this and I can handle anything, something happens that brings you back down to earth.
Not about ‘me’
“We are a team. We work with the fire department, with the police department, with EMStat, with animal welfare, and yes with the citizens. This is not a profession of ‘me’ or ‘I,’ it is a professional team that has to work together. I love the work I do as much today as I ever have.’’