Working on Christmas

By: Kelly Creswell Email
By: Kelly Creswell Email

Law enforcement officials in Augusta County are just some of the workers across the Valley who aren't able to go to Christmas parties and family gatherings Tuesday, because they have to work to serve the community.

For the fire department and emergency communications center in Harrisonburg, they say Christmas tends to be a slow day, but they still have to work, just in case an emergency does occur.

Even on Christmas, emergencies do happen and ECC operators still have to send out the fire department, the rescue squad and police officers when the need arises.

After working for the past five Christmas's, Emergency Communications Center operator Kelly Shipp says she understands, with this job, taking holidays off isn't an option. She has also learned to adapt.

"Your family learns to adapt to it a lot. They learn to accommodate to your schedule and realize that what you're doing is to help the community and it's nothing personal or nothing like that," says Shipp.

At the fire station, Harrisonburg firefighters are faced with working a 24-hour shift on Christmas, leaving barely any time to spend the holiday with family.

"It's a little different for me than it is a guy who's only been on the job for a year or two with small children, but I understand that and the others understand it and people work shifts, and they rotate and are willing to trade so that folks can have some opportunity to spend time with their families," says Tom Moffett, Harrisonburg Fire Department Battalion Chief.

While the day for these emergency responders is filled with routine work, they try to spread a little holiday cheer. They decorate their offices with stockings and Christmas trees to remind themselves it still is Christmas, even if they're not at home.

"The only thing we're here for is to make sure the citizens and the town are safe. That's what we do and that's why we're here and we understand that when we take the job, that's part of what's expected," says Moffett.

"Just making sure you didn't have an emergency. Thank you. Bye-bye," says Shipp.

Even on the holiday, emergency departments and the ECC were at full staff. Despite that, workers on duty found time to have a meal with co-workers since they couldn't be with family. Even the fire department stopped by the ECC to bring them over some dinner Tuesday night.


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