First Responders Share What Keeps Them Going

Geoffrey Manfre, firefighter, Franklin Fire Department

What is important about the holiday shift?
Since both my wife and I, a nurse, can be on shift for a holiday, it’s important for there to be some type of group meal for the crew. It can be lunch or dinner, and often the crew’s family is invited to attend. The feeling and action of “togetherness” is important.

What’s the best part of working on a holiday?
Customer service is what the job boils down to, and going the extra mile in a stressful situation is always a priority, especially on a holiday—if time and a situation allow, letting any kids see the fire truck or any other way we can make the atmosphere a little more relaxed.

When you do end up celebrating at home, what must you have to really make it a holiday?
No matter if in town or away, it’s about the food and getting all the kids involved. For Thanksgiving, deep frying the turkey and hanging around and making cooking an all-day affair seals the deal of an official holiday. Cleaning up together and looking forward to the next season while taking in the unique smells of the day.

How would you help a coworker who is having a particularly tough time working that shift?
Make sure that the day and environment are welcoming and about brotherhood. Remind them that they will be home for another holiday. A good way to have a positive outlook is to volunteer to work; choosing to be there and knowing you will have family time at another holiday.

Steve Chittanavong, police officer, City of Franklin

What is important about the holiday shift?
While working shift on the major holidays like Thanksgiving, but specifically Christmas, it is important for me to keep morale high and spread the holiday spirit to my coworkers and the citizens we are serving.

What’s the best part of working on a holiday?
The best part of a holiday shift is knowing that you are there to protect and serve the community so they can enjoy the holidays with their family without any worries of their safety.

When you do end up celebrating at home, what must you have to really make it a holiday?
Aside from enjoying the quality time with my friends and family, I must have some of my favorite desserts to eat. I prefer a strawberry cake with cream cheese icing or a cheesecake.

How would you help a coworker who is having a particularly tough time working that shift?
I would take the time to talk to them and find out what is on their mind. If being away from family was the issue, then I would reassure them that they will be able to spend time with their family after shift. I would suggest different ways they could celebrate on the next holiday they have to work.

Michael Campbell, advanced EMT, Williamson Medical Center

What is important about the holiday shift?
Although everyday things go wrong at home, holidays have a greater chance for more extended family members and people to be there when an emergency arises. The increase in the number of people in itself can cause more stress and worry to those in need. Arriving in a timely manner and extending a professional, assuring attitude goes a long way in settling those around the patient, as well as the injured party. Leaving the home quickly and quietly also helps in keeping to a more “normal” holiday event. To me, it’s about creating the least amount of extra stress and excitement as possible.
 

What’s the best part of working on a holiday?
The best part about working a holiday is the feeling I get when we help those who truly need our help and assistance. Those folks are thankful we are there.

When you do end up celebrating at home, what must you have to really make it a holiday?
We celebrate the holiday when I get home, and it works out fine! My kids are older and understand. We eat the traditional meal for that holiday, and I enjoy it just as if it were the actual holiday. I think my kids get a bit of a kick out of having two holiday meals where I only get one. We are flexible; if I work Christmas, we open gifts on Christmas Eve.

How would you help a coworker who is having a particularly tough time working that shift?
I give them enough space to call and talk with their family. Occasionally, we have even been able to visit family at their home. Immediate family has been able to come to the station as well. As far as advice, I would let them know that even though they have to be away from family during those days, the people we serve are happy to see us and glad we can treat them when they call. And remind them we signed up for this type of work schedule because it’s important to us and the community.