Dispatcher turns to work family during Las Vegas mass shooting
6:30 PM, Oct 1, 2018
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - During that horrible night, local emergency dispatchers who took hundreds of heart-wrenching calls within minutes of the first shots into the crowd.
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Melanie Straeter, who normally listens to calls for help, had to make one of her own on 1 October.
Straeter was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. It was her fourth year going so when she heard the shots, she knew something was really wrong. She crawled and hid under some nearby bleachers at first. Then she made her escape, running barefoot all the way to the airport.
The first call Melanie made wasn't to her biological family but to her work family. What she got was what everyone asked for and received that night from local dispatchers, reassurance that help was coming.
And when Melanie needed a way to get to her son, an off-duty training supervisor left her own family to pick up Melanie.
"We are a family and we stuck together. It's just amazing," says Nelly Rodriguez, communications specialist with Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.
"For me, it's just my job. I was there doing my job," says Mone Foster, another communications specialist with Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.
It felt like much more to Melanie.
"Not only were they worried about the public that night, they were worried about us."
After 1 October, Melanie took some time off to do some healing. She started counseling and took a trip. When she found normalcy -- a new normalcy -- she walked through the doors of the dispatch center once again, just like she has for the past 12 years.