While other families are opening gifts, drinking eggnog and spending holiday time with families, Teri Anslow is often answering 911 calls.
In her 23-year career at the Victoria RCMP Operational Communications Centre in Langford, Anslow has worked about 10 Christmases. She worked the holiday last year, but this year she will be spending it with family.
“It’s hard to come in and work on Christmas,” said the mother of three adult daughters. “You just want to be with family and when the kids were younger they didn’t understand.”
Anslow remembers waking her daughters early to open gifts before heading to work. When she worked through the night on Christmas Eve she would come home and stay awake for the family celebrations.
It’s easier now that her children are grown, but she knows it’s important to help people this time of year.
“We get a lot of suicidal, depressed people. It isn’t a good time of year in their lives,” she said.
Being able to be there for people going through a tough time is rewarding, but there are other calls that sometimes frustrate Anslow.
“It’s upsetting to get calls from people who are fighting with their families. They can’t grasp peace on Earth and good will,” Anslow said. “We’d like to be at home with our families. If I was at home I wouldn’t be fighting with my family.”
Last year on Christmas Eve Anslow received a call from an elderly couple who’s basement was flooding and they had no idea who to call. Anslow phoned around and found a restoration company to go to the home. She also notified some RCMP officers who went, rolled up their pants and started clearing water with buckets. Anslow and the officers helped the couple even though it wasn’t in their job description.
“These members work like dogs. It’s easy to say it’s not our problem, but we don’t do that,” she said proudly.
“We are here for a reason and we are here to help.”
One of Anslow’s favourite stories didn’t happen on Christmas, but it was in the spirit of giving.
She answered a call from two teens who didn’t have enough gas get home to Mill Bay. They called asking where they could park their car for the night to sleep.
“They said it was too cold at the beach and wanted to know if they could sleep in the car in the Wal-Mart parking lot,” Anslow said. “I told them to come to the detachment.”
When the teens arrived, she handed them $10. The teens promised to come back another day and repay the money.
“I told them that their parents would worry about them. I told them to pay it forward and the next time they heard someone say something bad about the police to tell them this story,” Anslow said. She also told them to buy a homeless person a meal as repayment.
Working on Christmas gives Anslow more appreciation for her family time during the holidays. Anslow and her co-workers decorate the dispatch centre and staff working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have a potluck.