Author, dispatcher Caroline Burau interview; WOTS 043

This episode we interview Dispatcher/ Call Taker and Technical writer Caroline Burau. Take a listen to a fun and entertaining show.

About the author

Caroline worked as a 911 dispatcher and calltaker for 12 years. She left the job for a career in technical writing in 2014. The hours are better, and she gets weekends off, but nobody ever says, “You’re a technical writer? I bet you’ve got some great stories!”

She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with an old dog and a new cat.

 About the books

Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat

You answer a call from a fourteen-year-old boy asking for someone to arrest his mother, who is smoking crack in their bathroom. You talk with him until the cops arrive, making sure there are no weapons around and learning that his favorite subject in school is lunch. Five minutes later, you have to deal with someone complaining about his neighbor’s clarinet practice.

What is it like to be on the receiving end of desperate calls for help . . . every day? Caroline Burau, a former newspaper reporter and nursing student who couldn’t stand the sight of blood, takes a job as an emergency dispatcher because she likes helping people. But on-the-job training at the comm center proves to be more than she bargained for. As she adjusts to a daily life of catastrophe and comedy, domestics and drunks, cops and robbers, junk food and sarcasm, lost cats and suicides, she discovers that crisis can become routine, that coworkers can be mean—that she must continue to care and, at times, learn how to let go.

Tell Me Exactly What Happened: Dispatches from 911

A rookie 911 operator’s funny, empathetic, and candid account of the demanding job that changed her forever.



If her life is a box of chocolates, acid-tongued, sugar-obsessed Estelle Brown should learn how to pick them better. Her boyfriend’s left her for a bulimic hand model, her roommate’s skipped town, and her boss is in love with her.

In the middle of her latest of a lifetime of doomed diet attempts – cutting sugar cold turkey – Estelle decides to quit quitting for good, pack her bags, and lose herself on a 7-day Caribbean cruise.

But even on a floating monument to binge eating, the diet industry follows her. Across from every buffet is a studio full of treadmills. Next to every plate of fried calamari is a large diet Coke.

As a ship full of wary passenger’s ducks for cover, Hurricane Estelle wages her own personal war against moderation. But the consequences land her in the belly of the beast: broke, alone, and forced to take a job as –of all things– a detox consultant for the ship.

Is Skinny the answer to Happy? Is Sweet ‘n Low the new black? Is that Denise Austin chick … for real? No, no, and yes . . . oddly. But for a Sugarfiend, it’s not the destination that matters, it’s all the cupcakes you get to eat along the way.



This episode was also brought to you by Xiphos Books & Training. Xiphos Books is responsible for books such as ‘Welcome to New Orleans… How many shots did you hear? Volume 1 and 2 as well as the fiction novel A Salty Life & A Traitor’s Death. Be sure to stop by their website and look at their books, training and public speaking dates.

  Show Links

Words off the street

@streetwordscast on Twitter

Contact information


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