Emergency services workers are on call for Christmas

Published 11:31 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

“It’s really kind of routine,” said Sgt. Brady Tew of the Demopolis Police Department. “You begin by watching the businesses and making sure they aren’t broken into, then you ride through the neighborhoods. You can ride by all the houses and see the appliance boxes in the road and know what they got.

“It makes for a slow day. We probably won’t get any calls — probably about kids arguing over toys.

“To me, it’s just another day to celebrate the Lord and what he has blessed us with,” Tew said. “It’s one of those quiet days to catch up on things and see things in a different aspect.”

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Demopolis Fire Department battalion chief Tommy Tate will also work on Thursday.

“I’ll be working the regular shift, a 24-hour shift from 7:45 that morning to 7:45 the next morning,” he said. “We do a basic training and events exercise — making sure the equipment is ready to go.

“I’ve had Christmases where nothing happens, and I’ve seen them with three structure fires in one day.

Tate said he has made arrangements to spend a Christmas with his family, albeit not the traditional Christmas Day together.

“We’ll get up early and do our Christmas,” he said. “We’ll go to my mother’s house on Friday and my wife’s mother’s house on Saturday. We have a lot of family on both sides, and most of them work shift work, so we have to pick a day to get together.

“Some guys are willing to swap with the younger guys. To me personally, if it’s my turn to work, I do what I need to do. It’s a part of the job, and you know coming in that it may work out like that. It’s just how the rotation works out.”

Unlike Tew and Tate, this will be the first time that dispatcher Valada Dunning will work on Christmas.

“I have family is Thomaston and Dixon’s Mills,” she said. “We’ll do our Christmas on Christmas Eve. Usually, we spend our Christmas Eve doing the Santa Claus thing. I would really prefer to have Christmas Eve off.”

Dunning said she found out that she would have to work on Christmas Day when she say the posted work schedule. She is a dispatcher for the county, coordinating communications among all of the county’s emergency services bodies.

She began work as a dispatcher in October 2007 and had Christmas off last year. This year, she will help coordinate the police departments, sheriff’s department, fire departments and ambulance service to help other have a safer Christmas.

“The county is pretty much in my hands,” she said