I’m that guy you talk to on the phone when you see or are part of a crash. I’m the one trying to keep you calm on the line and get the information of what has happened and what is needed in that moment. I’ve been working in the Kansas Turnpike’s Incident Management Center for several years, and unlike those who experience one or two accidents in their lifetime, I hear and assist with multiple crashes each week.
You would think as someone who is regularly on the other end of the line during these intense situations that I would become numb to what I hear. Well, that definitely isn’t the case. While I’ve unfortunately become used to tragic news, those calls about major incidents still get my heart pumping every time. I’ve experienced so many fatalities over the years, many of which still stick to me.
One that I still think about happened several years ago when a drunk driver hit a family in another vehicle, killing almost everyone involved. They were just headed to their family vacation. In an instant, the whole family was changed because of a complete stranger’s decision to drink and drive.
As the person on the other end of the phone, we don’t know the people involved. We stay calm, gather information and dispatch personnel. But, these people stay with us. They’ve gone through moments that are unimaginable.
I urge all of you to remember - your decisions on the road affect others. Stay alert, and don’t make stupid decisions. Traffic laws are there for a reason. I don’t want any of you to be another fatality on a call I answer.
Neal Charles is the Incident Management Center Assistant Supervisor with the Kansas Turnpike Authority