While most of us are snug in bed on Christmas Eve or excitedly opening gifts under the tree on Christmas day, there are folks in Liberty County diligently working to keep us safe.
Ralph Tiesler, Hinesville Police Department senior patrol officer said his morning shift on Christmas stays relatively quiet. However, the HPD gets busier just after the holidays, often with homeowners reporting burglaries, Tiesler said. The HPD officer said a lot of soldiers go home on block leave and sadly some return to find their homes were broken into during their absence.
He said tempers can also flare during the holidays.
The officer recalled once having to arrest a married couple on Christmas morning after a domestic dispute.
“Nine times out of 10 it’s always something minor. It always gets blown out of proportion,” he said.
HPD communications clerk Cheryl Hawkins agreed with Tiesler, adding domestic disputes are often the most common calls the police department receives.
“Christmas is a stressful time for a lot of people,” Hawkins said. “Your kid are asking for stuff and you’re trying to provide it.”
One year she took a call from a woman who was on her cell phone in the police department’s ladies restroom.
“She’d had a fight with her boyfriend and was hiding from him,” Hawkins said.
As for Christmas with her family, Hawkins wakes everyone at her house before she leaves for the police station.
“We just celebrate a little early is all,” she said.
Liberty Regional EMS paramedic Gary Morrison says he often works “a bunch of holidays.”
“You just learn to cope with it,” Morrison said. He added he finds working on Christmas or New Year’s Day particularly rewarding.
“On a holiday, people only call when they really need you,” he said. Morrison said people seem more appreciative and hospitable during the holidays. Fortunately, he’ll be home for Christmas this year. A co-worker switched shifts with him.
“I have a daughter, Presleigh, who will be 1 year old on Dec. 30,” Morrison said. “This will be her first Christmas. She’s the first girl on my side of the family in 90 years.”
Along with health-care workers and emergency responders, the people who collect residents’ trash year-round work especially hard during the holidays. Once gifts are opened, OMI workers pick up mountains of wrapping paper and empty boxes from curbs.
CDL driver and safety coordinator Gladys Williams said sanitation department workers’ morale remains high through the holidays because they take pride in their jobs.
“We just want to keep our city clean and safe,” Williams said. “Our goal is to get the job done. We want to get our guys in and out and back home to their families.”
Their daily schedule is from 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Williams said. Once sanitation workers complete their routes on Christmas, they are allowed to leave early, said OMI supervisor Rodney Edwards.
“We run extra vehicles to get the job done on Christmas,” Edwards said. Normally, OMI runs four garbage trucks and one junk truck for bulk items, such as mattresses, furniture and bicycles, he explained. At Christmas, “we run everything in the yard.”
OMI workers also provide “door service” to residents during the holidays since customers don’t usually think about putting their cans on the curb at Christmas, Williams and Edwards added. Generally door service is only given to elderly and disabled customers, they said.
Williams said customers will sometimes thank sanitation workers with small Christmas gifts such as gift cards, candy, socks and gloves.
“They think about us being cold in the winter,” Williams said.