The Night Shift Before Christmas

Listen to the Podcast on SoundCloud

Each year for the past few years I have been taking this poem written by Mike Perkins of Application Data Systems, Inc. and posting it.

This year I decided to record an audio version of this and post for all of my friends in Public Safety to share. These folks put everyone else first, and save thousands of lives every day. Thank you for all you do. Have a great holiday season.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, as she sat all alone,

In a room made secure, full of consoles and phones.

I had come down the chimney with presents to give

And to see just which hero in this center did live.

I looked all around and what did I see?

No tinsel, no presents, just a very small tree.

No stockings by a fire, just switchboards & mics,

And a few small photos of her kids riding bikes.

Amongst medals, and badges, awards of all kinds

A sobering thought crept into my mind,

For this room was different, so busy and bright:

T’was the 911 office, and a dispatcher on “nights.”

I’d heard stories about them and wanted to know more,

So I walked down the hall, and pushed on the door.

And there she sat with keyboards and mouse,

Waiting to set tones on a well roasting house.

Her face O’ so gentle, her room was abuzz,

It occurred to me then that she needed a hug.

Was this the hero of whom I’d read?

Sitting at a console making her bread?

Though my stress was high, hers seemed to be zero

And I soon understood this was more than a hero

For I realized the families that I saw just that night

Owed their lives to this servant who was willing to fight

Soon ‘round the world, the children would play,

And grownups would celebrate a new Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom each day of the year,

Because of dispatchers like her standing so near

I couldn’t help wonder how many there were

On a cold Christmas Eve working hard like her.

Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,

I eased up beside her my heart full of pride.

The dispatcher said, as she saw my tears falling,

“Santa don’t worry, this life is my calling;

I am the watcher: a lone, steady voice,

Getting help to the helpless: my job and my choice.

With a wink and a smile she answered a call,

An elderly man who’d been hurt in a fall.

I watched her intently, so alert, and so quick,

And I saw a slight shiver as she made a mouse click.

So I took off my jacket, thick, fluffy and red,

And I covered her shoulders, her neck, and her head.

I put on her sweater, which was smaller and tight,

The two of us there must’ve been quite a sight!

Though her sweater hardly fit me, my heart swelled with pride,

And for a fleeting moment I felt a kinship inside.

I didn’t want to leave her on that cold dark night,

This guardian of honor so ready to fight.

But she kissed my cheek, and in a voice so pure,

Said, “Carry on Santa. Christmas Day is secure.”

One look at my watch, and I knew she was right.

Merry Christmas my friend, as you watch through the night.

This poem was written by Mike Perkins of Application Data Systems Inc. as a salute to 9-1-1 dispatchers nationwide. It was adapted from “Soldiers Night Before Christmas.”

We would like to salute the unsung heroes who simply say “not on my watch,” the Dispatchers of America. You listen to the callers who may be having the worst day of their lives. You listen to Law Enforcement who has to sort out the un-sortable. You help Firemen find the unseen voice. You help EMS get to a family member who is very ill. Without you we cannot imagine what would happen.


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