PSD Rhonda Fitzgerald
Rhonda's career as a Public Safety Dispatcher for the CHP started later in life, and in an unusual way. While driving to work at her job at a telecommunications company she witnessed a car accident at a 4-way intersection. She pulled over and while calling 911 on her cell phone assessed all the parties in the vehicles to make sure no one was seriously injured. Everyone was fine until she came to the last car that caused the accident and found an elderly gentleman visibly shaken from the accident. She waited with him until paramedics arrived all the while trying to contact his wife for him. When paramedics cleared him she offered him a ride home. On the way home she talked to him about his long life as an educator and his apprehension about telling his wife he wrecked the car. She read in the paper the next day that he had died during the night from some internal injuries he suffered in the accident. It occurred to her that she may have been the last stranger he may have had contact with and was moved at how her kindness and compassion in coming to his aid was perceived by him when she called the family to express her condolences.
A few months later, Rhonda was laid off from her job of 16 years. At age 52 she needed to decide what to do with her life. Looking through the want ads for a job she ran across an ad for a Public Safety Dispatcher and remembering this man and how she felt when helping him. She decided this was the job for her.
She hired on with the California Highway Patrol in Oct 2005. While the training was hard and stressful the job was every bit as fulfilling and rewarding as she had hoped it would be. In May of 2007 she joined a Training Cadre at Golden Gate Communications Center to give her knowledge and experience to new trainees. In April of 2009 she promoted to a Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor I.
Her message to all who are thinking about a job as a Public Safety Dispatcher is to go for it. The job gives you the opportunity to help people in ways you can't even imagine. From assisting a stranded motorist to talking to someone in such despair suicide seems their only option and getting them the help they need. It is rewarding and personally gratifying to know every day you answer the phone or respond to an officer in the field you can make a difference - you can help. It's never too late in your life to do something you may have always wanted to do.