The first five hours of the shift end up running along the same fast pace set by our first call. Not including that MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) turned assault, the Calls for Service we took were as followed:
—6 missing/towed vehicles
—2 Domestic Violence calls
—2 missing/runaway persons
—3 suspicious vehicles
—2 DOAs (Dead On Arrivals)
—1 vehicle fire
—4 noise complaints
The break in calls was because it was our first scheduled 20 minute break.
After the system is put on hold, we sign out. As we walk out the Comms Room I remember something, "Hey, so with our first call, what do you think that cracking noise was?" Chaplain raises her hand to stop me with a shake of her head, "Nah uh. I like the enthusiasm, but break time is break time. You have to take this time to decompress or you'll get bitter really quickly,"
We walk back to the elevator and step inside, "Oh wait, do you know where the lunch room is? I'll show you, I need to grab my lunch out the fridge anyways." Chaplain asks.
The elevator dings and we step out into yet another nondescript white hallway. I wonder how long it'll take me to remember my way around this place.
The trip from the elevator to the kitchen is relatively short. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I see now.
The kitchen at my old facility was more of a kitchenette or a pantry in comparison. A person could easily fit three of them inside this kitchen/prep area. Along the right side wall stood four floor-to-ceiling silver refrigerators. The rest of the area was taken by a restaurant grade stove, a 3-compartment sink, white cupboards, and a large silver-top prep table.
I must have looked impressed because Chaplain grins, "Yea, it probably seems like a bit over the top. But it's set up this way for if and when the center is activated for natural disasters, the Salvation Army can come in and the area is at least partially ready for them."
"Oh nice, I didn't realize the Salvation Army came in. But that's makes sense, there's probably a lot of people packed in there when it's activated."
Chaplain groans, "You have no idea, there's so many people. Half the second floor is only barracks or locker rooms, but it still feels like you're getting a bit too familiar with strangers."
"Strangers? Who all gets sent here during activations?" I ask.
"Well, all the SPs (Specialized Personnel) get activated so they take up at least a third of the barracks — then there's obviously floor staff like us that's crammed in there — there's the IT personnel that sleep in their own batcave downstairs — occasionally we'll have a... I think they're called a squad? That gets stationed here from the National Guard. There's a couple of smaller local agencies that will send one or two people here in case they have to divert their jurisdiction's calls to bordering agencies."
"That's a lot of people to stuff in one building." I say, thinking that the sheer size of the barracks suddenly made a whole lot more sense.
"That's an understatement."Chaplain snorts as she opens the third fridge to the left and pulls out a plastic grocery bag, "Wait until you actually get to experience it. It's awesome but insane. You think cabin fever in your own home is bad? Wait 'til you're stuck in here for two weeks because of the next natural disaster that rolls through. It'll seem like a vacation in comparison."
I feel myself grimace at the idea.
Chaplain glances at my empty hands with a frown, "Where's your lunch T?"
Oh yeah. Whoops.
"I didn't pack one. I had a feeling I'd be too nervous to eat this afternoon. I planned on getting dinner with my roommate after work instead." I had no such plans, but I wasn't about to admit that I slept through my first three alarms and didn't have time to pack anything.
"I'm calling that as total crap, but I won't pry as to way you didn't bring anything."
"Thanks, I appreciate it."
"Oh don't think I'm about to let you not eat anything, we still have a decent chunk of time left at the console." Chaplain rummages around her plastic bag, "Here you go." She holds out a granola bar and tangerine.
"I appreciate the gesture, but I can't take your lunch." I say shaking my head.
"You say that like I was giving you an option. Take the food, I always pack extra in case somebody needs a snack."
"Thanks Chaplain, I really appreciate it." I say as grab them from her.
Chaplain laughs, "You know you don't have to call me by my last name right? My friends call me Stella."
"Yeah, it's my first name. Pretty stellar, right?"
"You're pretty proud of that one, aren't you?" I snort.
"You say that like it wasn't the funniest thing you've heard all day." She muses.
"It's a close second, the first thing still has to be the call from the guy who called from inside the air duct." I snort at the memory, "I'm still not entirely sure how he was planning on getting back up the other side of U- bend."
"He was trying to steal thirty cans of paint thinner from a Stop-N-Shop. Something tells me the man wasn't the brightest the brightest bulb." Stella cringes at the memory of the call, "You could tell it from his voice that he'd been huffing the stuff for a while now."
"You mean you could, I could barely understand the man."
"You'll get used to the mumbling and slurring soon or later, comes with the territory. It's like how you probably had to get used to the different units trying to communicate over the walkie while in the middle of a call."
"Hopefully that'll happen sooner than later. Not a fan of feeling so out of my depth." I admit with a sigh.
"You got this, I can feel it. And my gut is hardly ever wrong." Stella flashes a cheesy grin as she pats her stomach.
"I hope so."