As many of us hustle in and out of warehouse and grocery stores, crossing off Thanksgiving meal items from our lists, there is one CSLEA member slowly going through the motions of planning a much different and unexpected event - a memorial for her younger sister.
As we give thanks to CHP Public Safety Dispatcher Sally Fields for her work handling the emergencies we encounter, we also give thought to what she and her family are experiencing this Thanksgiving.
"I'm in a trance," Fields wept as she left the funeral home Monday November 25 where she made plans for her sister's memorial. "She was my world, we lived together."
Mercedes "Sadie" Smith, 28, passed away unexpectedly November 21 after a hazardous mishap at a Fairfield home improvement store. "My grandmother was with her, she took her to the emergency room, she was cleared to go home, she went to sleep and never woke up," said Fields.
Fields, 38, a CHP dispatcher for 15 years, is used to handling the unexpected, but nothing could have prepared her for her sister's death. "My father died when I was 25, Sadie was just 15 at the time, I raised her from that point on. We were very close."
Now Fields and her family are faced with the expense of funeral services. Close family friends have set up a fund to help.
"Dispatchers are one big family," said Tina Brazil, president of the CHP-Public Safety Dispatchers Association (CHP-PSDA). "When one of us hurts, we all hurt. We shoulder a lot of people's hurt by answering 911 calls all day, dispatching officers and watching out for the officers' safety. A personal tragedy like this will stay with Sally forever. She needs our thoughts and prayers."
"Our sincere and heartfelt sympathy is extended to Sally and her family," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "In this time of sadness we can only hope to offer her a smile. In this time of financial need, hopefully, we can all offer her a little support."
"It's all so hard to believe," said Fields. "Sadie's best friend died in March, their birthdays were a day apart."
A service for Sadie is planned Monday, December 2 at Holy Spirit Church in Fairfield.