LIVING THE CALL

By Kelly Glenzer

It was May 19, 2013, and I was enjoying my off day when several dispatchers from where I work took a barrage of wireless 9-1-1 calls reporting two females on a motorcycle who had hit a parked vehicle.

The call was not within our center’s jurisdiction; however, our center takes wireless 9-1-1 calls for the entire county.

My shift partner sent me a text, knowing that I had recently taken up riding a motorcycle with my significant other, Sarah. 

“Kelly, are you OK?” I never got it. I was not OK.

We had been riding through a residential area at 30–35 mph, and struck a parked car while cresting a hill to avoid moving vehicles. Sarah did somersault over the top of the car. I flew approximately 20 yards through the air.

People passing by the scene immediately called 9-1-1 and started checking on both of us. An off-duty EMT from one of our dispatch agencies was there and was able to help before the ambulance arrived. Because my condition seemed to be worse, he checked my status, and positioned me to protect my spine and make it more comfortable to alleviate my apparent pain.

I didn’t know he was there.

The accident resulted in a burst thoracic vertebra, five pelvic fractures, a broken cheekbone, a concussion, and road rash. A wonderful neurosurgeon spent at least six hours operating on my spine. My spine at the level of thoracic to lumbar vertebrae was fused with metal hardware.

The outlook was not good. The outcome was up in the air.

I spent three days in the intensive care unit and another 11 days in recovery at the hospital. I have a hazy recollection of visitors, who, I was told, came daily. I don’t recall my agonizing screams, which I was also told about, when moved from bed to wheelchair.

I was approved for 30 days of physical therapy and by the time of my release, I was commanding skills I needed for greater independence, like eating and grooming without assistance. I was walking, albeit slowly, for short distances using a walker, but still I was up and walking.

I returned to work part time on Aug. 1. In a few weeks, I was ready to go back full time, and I was welcomed with open arms by my work family.

There is very little I cannot do that I did before the accident.

I sometimes drive to work, and on those days I pull out my crutches for support when walking from the car to the building. Buttons installed at the employee entrance automatically open doors. I keep a spare wheelchair at the center.

I work a limited medically cleared schedule of nine hours a day, but I’m working toward an unlimited schedule.

My pelvic fractures have healed; the pain is minimal. I am walking more and more with forearm crutches.

I am able to maneuver throughout the center and troubleshoot any issue that comes up. I am proficient in CAD and all the equipment we use daily at the center. I am an EMD-Q and have my hands in several ongoing projects. When something or someone demands my attention, I am faster in the wheelchair than I was on foot! 

I have been at this job for nearly 10 years, almost eight as a supervisor and now more than a year “on wheels.” I can’t imagine myself at a different job, and I never even considered the idea of leaving Waukesha (Wis.) County Communications because of the accident.

I am blessed. I am lucky. I am alive. A positive frame of mind and not knowing the permanent limitations from the injuries allow me to continue to do the job I love. I achieve because I believe.

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