You answer a call from a 14-year-old boy asking for someone to arrest his mother, who is smoking crack in their bathroom. You talk with him until the cops arrive, making sure there are no weapons around and learning that his favourite subject in school is lunch. Five minutes later, you have to deal with someone complaining about his neighbour's clarinet practice. What is it like to be on the receiving end of desperate calls for help...every day? Caroline Burau, a former newspaper reporter and nursing student who couldn't stand the sight of blood, takes a job as an emergency dispatcher because she likes helping people. But on-the-job training at the comm centre proves to be more than she bargained for. As she adjusts to a daily life of catastrophe and comedy, domestics and drunks, cops and robbers, junk food and sarcasm, lost cats and suicides, she discovers that crisis can become routine, that co-workers can be mean -- that she must continue to care and, at times, learn how to let go.
Caroline Burau is a 911 dispatch operator for the police and fire departments in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.