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My Mama’s a 9-1-1 Superhero

By Special Guest Writer Mattison Broadfoot

Growing up in a law enforcement family has proven to be anything but easy. My dad was a police K9 handler and later a sheriff’s deputy, and my mom, a 9-1-1 dispatcher for over 20 years. I also grew up in a very small town, where everyone knows everyone. I had a very good life for a duration of my childhood, and I always felt like the “cool” kid in school who was constantly asked how it was living this kind of life. We had a very nice house, the white picket fence, the golden retriever, nice cars, and for a while, this was all I ever knew.

Mattison with her mom (L) and grandparents.

As everyone knows, life can change almost in an instant. When I was in fifth grade, my mom, brother and I had to start over all on our own. My dad left us, and got several DUI’s, ending his career, and was put all over the news. For a while, everyone knew me because of my dad and his mistakes. We lived with my grandparents while we could get back on our feet, and then we were able to get a small house of our own. At school, I was surrounded by kids who had everything I once did: extremely nice houses, and most notably to me, two parents.

My mom worked day in and day out, so much so I barely saw her. My brother and I would ride the bus to school, home, and a lot of the time get ourselves to bed with my mom still at work. I was upset for a long time, and I felt like my mom didn’t care to take time off to spend with her kids. I always hoped for just one day off with mom. I was young and immature, and had been through so much trauma at this point, that it was hard for me to understand how insanely hard she worked for us. I was naively focused on everything we had been through, and not what she was doing to fix it. Everything she did was for my brother and I, but it was hard to see that when she was not there.

I knew what she did for a living, but I don't think I realized just how much she went through at work. My mom is extremely good at separating home life and work life, and did not let us see how her job affected her emotionally. Looking back to when we were younger, I know this is how it had to be because we weren’t capable of understanding why she had these emotions and what caused them.

As I grew older and the years passed by, my mom and I became extremely close. We had been through all this trauma together, and for the most part, we were all each other had. Once I started high school, we were inseparable. We told each other everything, and I gained so much respect for everything she did for us. I felt so guilty for not realizing how hard she worked. Most of high school, my mom worked seventy-hour weeks, but she still remarkably made time for us and our accomplishments.

Unfortunately, her job in 9-1-1 has been hard for me at school because kids think it is an opportunity to ask for inappropriate favors. I have been asked to tell cops my mom works with to not pull certain kids over, not bust parties they were having, etc. However, I think this could happen to any kids at school in different scenarios, with different parents in different career paths. I guess that is how high school kids work.

But we built such a strong foundation for our family, and we were able to get through anything together. I have been eternally grateful for my mom and our relationship, especially through the battles of high school.

In January 2022, we lost my grandpa. He was everything to my family and held us all together like glue. He helped raise my brother and I alongside my grandma, and was the best father to my mom and her three brothers. This loss took an enormous toll on all of us, but my mom kept us grounded, and was able to guide us through his death while still keeping herself together. She continued to show up to work soon after she lost her dad. Her job is what kept her centered, and even with how hard it was to get up in the morning, she went to work, and quite literally, saved lives.

Mattison and her brother with their mom.

Throughout my life, there were many nights my mom would come home so emotionally drained from work, sobbing about the difficult 9-1-1 calls she had taken. Every time she picked up that phone, she never knew who or what situation would be on the other end of the line. She has listened to people take their last breath, received murder confessions, helped deliver babies at bus stops, and so much more just over a phone. My mom has not only been my hero, but a hero to people who do not even know her name or what she looks like, just her voice.

Despite the hardships my family has endured over my 18 years of life, my mom was always there to pick us up and keep us going. As I leave for college and begin my adult life, I admire my mom more and more everyday. My mom has been my biggest role model, for she continues to get up and go to work no matter how hard it is, and she still loves it with everything she has.

Recently, she was promoted to 9-1-1 Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor, after an initial rejection from the position, she still persevered, and her hard work paid off in the end. My mom is extremely kind and always sees the best in people, which can sometimes lead to her getting hurt. From the standpoint of her #1 fan, it breaks my heart others could ever see her as less. My mom is the hardest worker I have ever known, and has always shown up for her department after everything life has thrown at her.

All I have ever known throughout my life is my mom working as a 9-1-1 dispatcher and I couldn’t imagine it being any different. Though I wish I could put her in a bubble where nothing could ever hurt her, I know she is making a difference in our community, and she has done a very good job at raising my brother and I to know what is right from wrong. I am so grateful for the life my mom has given me, and if I could go back and change anything, I don’t think I would because everything that has happened to us has shaped me into the person I am today.

My mom is a superhero, and everyone in this line of work is too.

About the Author:

Mattison Broadfoot is the daughter of a 9-1-1 Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor for an agency in Northern California. She loves all animals, especially her four dogs, Gunner, Gracie, Texas, Sam, and a cat, Binks. Mattison just graduated high school and this fall she will be attending Sierra College majoring in Emergency Medical Sciences... the beginning of her journey to become a future Paramedic.

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