Tuesday, June 3, 2008

$60 for a 5-mile ride to work in Akron???

I met a great lady last week ... Susan Lang. She's a 9-1-1 dispatcher for Akron Police & Fire. You'll hear more about her when my story about her airs later this week on WKYC, but I'm just amazed at her dedication to her job.

Because she suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and works odd hours in the 9-1-1 call center, Susan needs special transportation to and from work. She's only coming in to downtown Akron from Kenmore .. about five miles each way .. yet the yellow cab service she uses charges her $60 a day. It's because she needs a special lift for her wheelchair. 60 bucks just to take her five miles each way.

Would you keep coming to work if you had to pay those travel expenses?

Susan pays it .. because she loves her job. Because she feels a calling to be there. Because she knows that at any given moment, there might be someone calling with a crisis and she wants to be on top of her game.

Still .. considering the critical service Susan provides, isn't there a better, more affordable way to get her there?

Susan tells me that the SCAT bus service is a better deal and much more affordable. Unfortunately, SCAT doesn't always run at the hours (nights/weekends) when Susan is scheduled in the 9-1-1 center.

Susan used to be on her feet all day cutting hair, but the MS has slowly taken hold. She's had a few bad falls in the last few years, breaking both ankles, so now the wheelchair is a must. The MS has also taken part of her right hand away .. so she's learned to type the critical details of a 9-1-1 call using her left hand only.

She never misses a beat.

Her fellow dispatchers are hoping that a national program like "Extreme Home Makeover" will get involved and help transform Susan's Kenmore home into something more accessible to her needs. In the meantime, the home needs immediate updates for basic accessibility.

Susan's fairly modest .... she's the last person to ask for help, but the first in line to give it. She tells me that elderly residents sometimes call in the middle of the night because they've fallen. Susan will stay on the line with them ... just keeping them company ... until a relative arrives to help .. or they regain their strength to get up.

She's there when we need her.

It's doubtful anyone calling in an emergency has any idea that the person they're calling for help is themselves fighting the good fight just to be there ... but thank goodness she is .. because we're all depending on her.

And that's why she spends so much of her paycheck .. just to get to work.


Anonymous said...

Please fill out an application for her to be on the show!

What an inspirational story. Someone who actually loves her job and does anything to get there.

Anonymous said...

Wow! For $60 a day it seems like she could purchase a modified vehicle of her own for transportation.

Eric Mansfield said...

Yeah .. she's hoping to do just that.

As her health stabilizes, I think she'd like to find a vehicle that she can operate with hand controls. Right now, the immediate concerns are focused on getting her home up to snuff .. and maybe finding a more affordable way to get to work.

Laura said...

I think that this is such a great story! What a fantastic lady! Thanks for sharing her story Eric...