Tis the season to be working

Published 4:51 pm Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas will come early this year for Jessica Bird.

The Austin paramedic and her family will feast on hors d’oeuvres Dec. 24, and cap the day off with a dinner of chili and the Midwest favorite, oyster stew.

She’ll open her presents that same day because come Dec. 25, she’ll be busy.

Bird is one of the many medical and law enforcement employees in Mower County who will work over Christmas Eve and Christmas this year.

They will do so because health problems and traffic accidents don’t take vacations over the holidays.

Because chest pains happen, travelers drive too fast and crash, and people do fall and break bones.

“Every day is an unknown for what type of calls you will run into,” said Bird, who works for Mayo Medical Transport/Gold Cross Ambulance.

What is known is that Bird and shift partner Mike Swoboda, an EMT, will work a 24-hour shift over Christmas Day and stay at the ambulance station, which is equipped with a kitchen, a living room and bedrooms.

“It’s a home away from home,” Bird said.

They will be ready when needed, even when their families are home celebrating.

Bird said the company will pay for Christmas dinner for employees, and if there’s time, Bird and Swoboda might even stop by her family’s house and/or his family’s too.

“As long as we’re with the truck, we can do things,” Bird said. “We’ll try to stop at my family’s house and then his,” she said.

And would those stops be planned around food or dessert if possible?

“Oh yeah, we time those things,” said Bird, with a smile.

Amy Wollenburg, another paramedic, and shift partner Jill Pratt, will work on call during Christmas, meaning they have to be no more than 10 minutes from the Gold Cross station, just in case.

“It’s kind of just another day, but some of these people (who need medical assistance) are more grateful on the holidays, so they will offer cookies or food,” Wollenburg said.

On the other side of town, Austin Medical Center staff will also be working the holidays.

Mary Rosheim works in the emergency department as a registered nurse and will work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Christmas Eve.

Her husband, John Rosheim, is also a registered nurse, and will work the same shift.

The Rosheims have been married eight years and have two children, Emma, 7, and Meghan, 4 1/2, who both want dolls for Christmas.

“It’s really not that hard because we’ve both been nurses since we’ve been together so it’s second nature,” Mary Rosheim said. “We get our calendars out in July, and there we go.”

During some years, they have to work on Christmas Day, but the Rosheim household works around that.

“We just pick a day where none of us work, and we make that our Christmas,” Mary Rosheim said. “And we explain to our children that ‘Santa just has to come early,’ although the neighbor kids always wonder why Santa is coming to our house (early) and not theirs.”

At work, Mary Rosheim said the holidays can be enjoyable, complete with potlucks and plenty of food.

“We really don’t feel bad that we’re here,” she said. “It’s our extended family. We have our own celebrations on our down times.”