During the most wonderful time of the year, duty continues to call for first responders
Our plans may include little more than sleeping in, lying in the throes of food coma, raising a glass of champagne under fireworks, watching football, relaxing with family or letting loose among friends. However, not everyone will be experiencing those luxuries on year’s biggest holidays. For many of the men and women of Chandler’s police and fire departments, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are a typical day on the job that requires readiness to respond to situations that take no days off. Here’s how three first responders plan to spend their holidays on-the-job.
Scott Picquet, Lieutenant of patrol and day shift watch commander, Chandler Police Department
Spending holidays on the street comes with the territory for Scott Picquet, a 20-plus year veteran of firefighting and police service.
As most of the city is in feast-prep mode, Picquet will be spending the majority of these prime Thanksgiving hours in his patrol vehicle.
“Some restaurants that are open make sure first responders on the road have dinner. People will drop off pumpkin pies. They just spoil us,” he says.
Picquet’s wife is an intensive care nurse, so working holiday shifts has been routine since they were college sweethearts. They have no children, but the nieces and nephews fill that role.
He hopes for a calm Thanksgiving—last year, the day included catching armed criminals breaking into a medical clinic. Either way, Piquet and his colleagues are primed to respond.
“One of our citizens may be having the worst day of their lives and we come. That’s what we do,” Picquet says. “We are fortunate to be able to serve.”
James Schulte, police dispatcher, City of Chandler
Like every holiday season for the last four years, James Schulte will be on duty Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. However, thanks to his new 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift, it will be the first time the husband and father of two will be home for the family dinner on those actual days.
However, morning festivities will kick off with Schulte’s co-workers. The dispatch room will be decorated and everyone will collaborate on a potluck. Schulte got a smoker a couple of years ago and is expected to bring something that’s been cooking low and slow for hours—likely smoked chicken wings.
“We all know the struggle of being at work during the holidays when everyone else is at home with their families,” he says. “While we all try to make the best of it, it feels good to be in the position to help people if they need it.”
Steve Carlson, Captain, Chandler Fire Department, Station 10
After 18 years as a firefighter, Steve Carlson is accustomed to spending holidays at his home-away-from-home when most in the city are settled in the comfort of their actual homes.
In these situations, family brings the festivities to him. This year will be no different when he works Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
“Our families usually come down to visit and bring us snacks or dinner. Or, they eat with us and we’ll have a big family outing with everyone’s families,” says Carlson, who’s married with four teenage sons.
But just because he’ll treat calls with the same demeanor he would on any other day, Carlson doesn’t forget that those who are in need of his rescuing do so on a day that is special for them.
“You’ve got to keep that in your mind. Their whole day changes so we try to help them extra in any way we can,” he says.