The people that work so that you stay safe

As we all tuck into turkey and all the fixings, we can assume a reasonable level of safety. But what if Aunt Marge drops a tea towel on an open flame or someone has an allergic reaction to the cranberry sauce? Without first responders like our police, fire departent and emergency room nurses and doctors, many would find themselves in dire circumstances. So what are the holidays like when there are no holidays? We checked in with three Northlanders that have served on the merriest days of the year. Thank you to them for their sacrifices and service! 

 

Kristi Sola–Registered Nurse, North Kansas City Hospital Emergency Department 

How long have you been serving? 

I have been a nurse in the Emergency Department at North Kansas City Hospital for a little over 2 years.  I have been a nurse for almost 7 years.

How long is a typical shift? 

12.5-13 hours.

How do shifts differ on the holidays? Do you see different things or interact with the public differently? 

I would say that usually working holidays in the ER involves a slower pace, but you just never know! Unfortunately, emergencies and sickness will still happen for people, regardless of if it is a holiday or not. No one wants to feel poorly or have to come in on these special days and miss time away from their loved ones.  I try to put myself in their or their family’s place and think how I would feel if I was in their situation, and how I would want to be cared for.  Sometimes people come in that don’t have any family, and that’s pretty heartbreaking, especially around holidays.  That’s why I think a little extra kindness and attention can really go a long way. Nobody wants to have to come to the ER, especially on holidays, but I am happy to be here to help.  It really does feel like a privilege to be here to serve and support the community.  

Is there anything fun about working on a holiday? 

Oh, yes!!  There’s definitely an increased sense of camaraderie among staff that work holidays together.  We usually do a big, “family” potluck meal.  The physicians usually provide the meat, and the rest of the staff bring in various appetizers, sides, desserts, and treats.  We wear fun, holiday-themed shirts.  Last year my shirt had an ambulance as the sleigh, being pulled by all the reindeer.

What do you miss the most when working on the holiday? 

Of course, I miss my husband and all of my family when working holidays.  I miss sitting around the table talking, laughing and enjoying a meal together.  My husband’s family is Italian, and they make the most amazing, delicious food you have ever tasted!  I always go over there when my shift ends or get leftovers, so I don’t really miss out on that part.  I am also fortunate and blessed to have a family that rearranges holidays yearly.  This is not only to accommodate me but also for my brother-in-law Anthony, who is a firefighter for KCFD and works holidays as well.  I’m hesitant to say that I “miss out” on holidays.  I am serving a bigger and greater purpose for people in the community in their time of need, and that’s a really remarkable feeling. 

 

John Eppert–Police Officer for the city of Gladstone in the patrol division 

How long have you been serving? 

I’ve been working for the City of Gladstone for just over two years.

How long is a typical shift? 

Our typical shifts are 12 hour days.

How do shifts differ on the holidays? Do you see different things or interact with the public differently? 

Shift times are the same all year around (night or day).  Sometimes, every shift you usually see something different; on the holidays you might have more business/building checks, since those places are generally closed or have less personnel working.  I try to treat everyone I contact the same way.  Not everyone celebrates the same holidays, some people have a different nationality or religion. I don’t want to offend them but still be able to carry on a cordial conversation.

Is there anything fun about working on a holiday? 

Yes, if you make it.  We (my squad) will bring in food and try to pot luck when we can.  Most of the citizen contacts that I’ve made on the holidays, we will generally laugh about them (the citizen)–forgetting that last minute ingredient or purchase they forgot, which is why I see them driving around.

What do you miss the most about working on the holiday? 

I miss spending time with my family and friends.

 

Eric Miles–Fire Chief for Claycomo Fire Department 

How long have you been serving? 

Short Answer – 28 years

Long Answer – I started in the fire service in 1990 as a Junior Firefighter while I was in High School.  I worked my way up to Senior Firefighter and got my Emergency Medical Technician License my senior year in high school.  A few years later, I became a licensed Paramedic, and the rest is history.

How long is a typical shift? 

Recently I was able to transition to a Monday – Friday, 8am to 5 pm shift.  However, I am always on call.  Since we have a small department, a fire or other special events mean all hands on deck.  Plus, being a Fire investigator, we need to start our investigation as soon as possible, even if that is at 2 am.  For most of my career, I worked what is called a 24/48 shift, 24 hours on duty, 48 hours off duty.

How do shifts differ on the holidays? Do you see different things or interact with the public differently? 

With our line of work, our shifts do not take holidays into consideration.  Emergencies don’t take holidays off, and neither do we.  I think that we were a little more cheerful when interacting with the public during the holidays.  I have spent several shifts on holidays wearing a red stocking cap, especially when interacting with kids.  I would like to think that it helps put people a little more at ease. 

Is there anything fun about working on a holiday? 

Maybe getting to act sillier if the situation presents itself.  The food!!!!  People bring food up to the fire station during the Christmas Holiday season, and we greatly appreciate it!

What do you miss the most about working on the holiday? 

I miss being with my family on those days but my family was awesome and we worked around the situation.  We knew that it wasn’t a specific date that was important as it was the message and the time with family.  The fire departments that I work for are great about allowing families to visit us at the fire station.