Minnesota Historical Society

Tell Me Exactly What Happened

$ 16.95

In a workplace where “job security” means that a healthy supply of stupidity always keeps the phones ringing, it’s important to remember that people will never stop needing help. 

  • Author Caroline Burau
  • Publisher: MNHS Press
  • Format: Paperback, 192 pages, 5.5x8.5 inches
  •  ISBN: 9781681340098

I’ve helped deliver two babies. I’ve listened to countless child death scenes.
I’ve helped save lives. I’ve listened to many more of them just slip away.
I’ve watched Saturday Night Live dozens of times, but never once without interruption, and mostly on mute.
I’ve depended far too heavily on coffee and Benadryl.
I’ve worked with some of the finest, funniest, most caring jerks who’ve ever lived.

In her new book, veteran 911 operator Caroline Burau shares her on- the- job experiences at both a single- person call center (complicated by a public walk- up window) and a ground and air ambulance service. Whatever the position, the challenges for a dispatcher never end. Tragedy, boredom, and mind- bending weirdness are constant companions, as her stories— some funny, some odd, some sad— show. A “broken penis,” a case of domestic violence at the walk- up window, a tornado striking a mile away— Caroline Burau handles them all with efficiency, empathy, and humor.

But the job is not an easy one. On top of dealing with life-and-death situations everyday, Burau is shaken by the suicide of a colleague. She battles stress and burnout, knowing that she is truly helping people. She also realizes that no matter how long she is in the hot seat, listening, waiting, and answering 911, she cannot help everyone. Tell Me Exactly What Happened is one woman’s memoir, but it is also a welcome companion for anyone who has needed relief from a stressful job.

Caroline Burau is the author of Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat. Visit her on Facebook.

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