• September 17, 2014

Public servants spend holidays working

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Posted: Friday, December 27, 2013 4:30 am

There are many employees working the holidays who are not selling anything. They are busy keeping our city and county governments functioning.

Cpl. Darrell Hurlburt, 40, drew shift duty on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve this year at Coryell County jail.

“We all generally work a couple of holidays a year. If your shift falls on a holiday, you work,” Hurlburt said.

The five-officer shift crew is responsible for basic jail operations — feeding, handling distribution, resolving disputes and deciding what level of force may be needed to calm a conflict.

“Everybody misses home this time of year,” Hurlburt said. “Sometimes emotions run a bit higher.”

Officers keep a sharper eye on inmates who might be feeling more depressed than usual during the holiday season.

“Holidays are a little different,” he said. “There is a heightened sense of homesickness. We have to make sure to keep everyone’s spirits up. Suicide risk is higher during the holidays.

Copperas Cove Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young said firefighters sacrifice time with their families during the holidays, but it’s part of the job.

“A career in the emergency services has many inherent characteristics that are known to us such as the job being dangerous, not knowing one minute to the next what you will be doing, helping those who are likely experiencing the worst moment in their lifetime as well as the potential to work many holidays each year,” Young said.

“Each of our families initially goes through a period of adjustment and soon learns that observing holidays on a day other than the actual day is a change from the norm that they may not be accustomed to but they soon learn how to adjust. Fortunately with shift work, families have time to make alternate plans well in advance of the holiday.”

Young recalled a time when his extended family had to wait until late January to celebrate Christmas.

“My brothers-in-law and both nephews all worked for the fire service in various different departments, and due to scheduling, we were not all off duty until late in January. It may seem odd, but that is the type of life that we have due to the career that we have chosen,” Young said. “Emergency Services is not just about an individual, it affects his whole family and the whole family supports each other, and that support comes in the form of understanding.”

Copperas Cove Public Information Officer Kevin Keller worked with the police department for many years.

He said most law enforcement families understand the role of their police officer members and support the fact there is still a need to serve and protect even on holidays.

“We consider our fellow employees to be family and find comfort in being with them as well during the holidays, knowing that we have each others’ support to make it home safely at the end of shift,” Keller said.

The holidays are good opportunities to show support for local public servants, Keller said. A simple “thank you for your service” speaks volumes.

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