A few weeks ago, I got a letter in my mailbox at work stating I was invited to attend the Sheriff’s award ceremony and that I was going to be honored an award. It did not specify what the award was for or why I was receiving it. I responded back stating I would be there, not really knowing what I was getting myself into.
I have been a 911 dispatcher for just about five years now. This is the first award I have ever been given so I was very humbled to say the least, however, I did not want to make a big deal out of it. I told my mom about it because she was going to be babysitting Myles that day while I was at work, so I needed to know if she could watch him an hour early or if I needed to take him with me. Ended up, I just asked her if she would like to meet me down there that way they could watch too.
As this week approached, I got more and more nervous every day. I don’t do well in front of a lot of people. Nor do I do well when I overthink things and get inside my head. I get extremely anxious!
Monday morning rolls around and Myles decides he is going to do everything in his power to make me late. Adam and I are having a heated discussion via text. I call my boss because as I am stepping out of the shower, I realize I have NOTHING to wear!!!!!!!! At my job, we wear a uniform that consists of either a black polo with embroidered badge and patches sewn on the shoulders or a button up collared black shirt with our badge and name plate with patches. Our shirts are tucked into black cargo pants with a think leather belt. Then we have black military style boots. You can see what I mean in the video at the beginning of this post. Anyways, now that I’m pregnant, my pants do not button, so I am wearing black yoga pants with my shirt un-tucked and a black tank under it because my belly would hang out of the bottom of my shirt if I did not. Basically, I look like a complete and utter SLOB! At this point, I am full out meltdown mode but I hold it together and get through my phone call with the boss lady. She tells me to just wear dress clothes and now I have to decide what to wear.
Once I am off the phone with her, I break down. I tell Adam I cannot argue right now and we make up. I text my mom telling her she can come over at any time, only to find out she threw her back out again and is moving slower than normal. Trying to find something to wear and do my hair and makeup, while Myles is causing havoc. I just want to crawl back into bed for the day. Finally, I think I’m just about ready, it’s exactly the time I want to leave, but I turn around to see monster child still in his pajama top and no pants. “Well you can’t go out in public looking like that now can ya?” So we run upstairs and get him dressed. By the time we get back downstairs, my mom is just about pulling in the driveway. Out the door we go.
Even though we are leaving later than I originally planned, we end up getting down to “the city” quite quickly (perhaps because both my mother and I think we are speed racers). So as we get off the expressway, this little round green sign calls to me… it says “I will take all of your problems from the morning away!” Starbucks it is! Hit the drive thru real quick and get my regular. On the road again. The ceremony is just around the corner now.
We pull in and I am feeling like a million bucks sippin’ on my iced vanilla latte, jammin’ out to some tunes, UNTIL…. I see what look like a million cars in the parking lot and it all hits me again like a ton of bricks. Everything goes fuzzy. I am instantly in a state of panic. Keep it cool, Renee! I keep thinking over and over again in my head. Mom parks next to me and we head in.
We are met at the door by one of the Captains, who is also Chief of Staff. He starts to explain to me the process of how I will be called up onto stage but then pauses to make sure I am an employee who is getting an award LOL. Our department is so large, I would never expect all the higher ups to know who each and everyone of us are. Plus, I try to stay under the radar for the most part as well. Anyways, he said there was a list of the awards being handed out in the program that he handed me. A few awards before me, I was to step to the side of the auditorium and line up in order to be called onto stage. My vision is still blurry as he is telling me this but I’m able to gather enough and go find a seat in this auditorium that seats about 10,000 people… Ok maybe not that many but this place is HUGE!
As people start to fill in the seats around us, we are surrounded by some of my coworkers and friends which is relieving in a way. The sheriff begins his speech, then the captains take turns calling people to the stage. At this point, I show my mom how bad my nerves are by holding my hand out in front of me… they are literally shaking like a leaf in a wind storm. My name is pretty close to the end of the program and Myles starts snoring pretty early on, so I focus on him to keep my mind off being terrified.
Finally, it becomes time for me to walk over to the side of the stage. I am right behind an old great friend of mine so I give her a hug and congratulate her! We chat for a few min and she always makes me laugh. Between my nerves, the baby pressing on my bladder, the starbucks latte, and now laughing, I feel as though I may pee my pants. Too late… “Renee Sutton”…here we go.
I did not hear what was announced while I was on stage because I was too focused on my breathing so I did not pass out. Luckily, my mom took the above video and I was also given a letter from the sheriff with the script as well. It says as follows:
“In January of 2017, a 911 call came into the Sheriff’s Dispatch Center from a parent that their adult son was down and barely breathing. Renee continued to calmly talk with the father as other dispatchers sent EMS and Police to the house. As Renee gave pre-arrival instructions to the father, the son stopped breathing. Renee was able to talk the father through, instructing him to move his son to be flat on the floor and begin CPR compressions. It was obviously a very stressful time for the father, but Renee was able to keep him focused on what he needed to do. As police arrived, the son began breathing. Further first aid treatment provided by them resulted in the son becoming conscious. As her supervisor pointed out, the calm instructions from Dispatcher Sutton resulted in a positive outcome that day. Therefore we are proud to present Dispatcher Renee Sutton with the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award.”
Overall, I was extremely honored and even proud of myself, but truly, I was merely doing my job. This is not the first nor will it be the last person I save. Of course it makes me excited to be successful and be able to help people (thus why I love my job). But I also believe that I did nothing that any of my other partners wouldn’t have done. I was just the lucky one who picked up the phone call. I was lucky enough to have a family member who was able to control his emotions enough to save his child. I’ve been blessed to be given the training and knowledge from this department and my coworkers/bosses. I am pretty pumped about the lifesaving bar that I will proudly get to wear above my name plate on my uniform each day.
Thank you to everyone who congratulated me. I appreciate it. Even more than the sweet words, I appreciate you being calm and understanding with the dispatcher when you are calling the police or 911, as we are with you.