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Answering 911 : life in the hot seat
Caroline Burau
Adult Nonfiction HV7911.B85 A3 2006

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From Publishers' Weekly:

I want to save lives, but I'm willing to settle for just not killing anybody," confides this suburban Minneapolis author about being a rookie 911 dispatch operator . In simple prose that is often crass and amateurish, Burau recounts moments of terror and incompetence among her colleagues: one dispatcher plays computer games while listening to a suicidal caller ; others send medics to the wrong address while an acid-burn victim suffers. Cynical and bitter after two years on the job, Burau has harsh words for callers who report cell phones stolen from unlocked cars; a "frequent flyer" (someone "always in crisis") who wants the police to baby-sit her kids; and a woman whose grisly trailer-home suicide is relayed by her hysterical 12-year-old daughter. Recalling her abortive attempts as nursing student, reporter for a community paper and locksmith and, in sordid detail, her addiction to crack and an abusive boyfriend, Burau has been in recovery for 11 years and has married and adopted a stepdaughter she adores but worries about failing. Although this clearly isn't her intention, Burau's honest memoir of the 911 trenches will make readers queasy about the quality of emergency service personnel in their own communities. (Aug. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Burau shares her journey of becoming a 911 dispatch operator in suburban Minnesota. After trying various school and career options-nursing school didn't work out when she discovered her aversion to blood-Burau, determined to find a career in which she could help people, decided to try answering 911 calls. A former journalist, she skillfully weaves her life story into short vignettes about the calls, her coworkers, her family, her training, and her constant worrying. She pulls no punches when describing some of life's most tragic moments but softens the blow with her witty inner commentary, e.g., "When a woman called because her child had been hit by a car, my first thought was: She should call 911. Oh my God, I AM 911." Burau is endearingly human as she shares her complicated journey through life, which involves everything from overcoming a troubled youth to balancing work and family. While she may have found her calling as a 911 dispatcher, let's hope she continues with her new writing career as well. Highly recommended for public libraries and true crime/memoir collections.-Karen Sandlin Silverman, Lib. Svcs., Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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