Inspired Woman Magazine

First Responders: Lasting Friendships

by Marci Narum |  Photography: Callie Wachendorf

For the first time in 13 years, Bismarck police officer Scarlett Vetter has a job with regular hours. She’s a school resource officer at South Central High School and Wachter Middle School in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“When I go into the schools, I wear my uniform,” Scarlett shares, “and the little girls are all like, ‘You’re really a girl cop?’ And I tell them, yes, I’m really a girl cop, and you can be one too.”

Scarlett’s new Monday through Friday post is a nice change for her, but it’s been a tougher adjustment for her best friends, Darci Mitchum and Sam Grand. Darci is a critical care certified ground and flight paramedic for Metro Area Ambulance. Sam is a firefighter and EMT for the Bismarck fire department.

“Sam and I work 24 hour shifts, so it’s harder now getting shifts to line up. We used to have weekdays off together,” Darci explains.

“I miss those days!” Sam quips.

“Quit being so bitter!” Darci teases, and the three women burst into laughter. Their banter and amusement is nonstop.

“We will try to plan something additional with just the three of us, but it’s harder now since I have a normal schedule,” says Scarlett.

The women became friends four years ago the same way many people do: on the job. Cops, firefighters, and critical care personnel are typically strong leaders, and each has her own job to do at the scene of an accident, crime, or medical emergency. So they have to share the scene, respect boundaries, and follow rules. Scarlett, Darci, and Sam each describe themselves as strong, outspoken, direct women. They won’t back down when doing their jobs.

“We’re not afraid to be very firm with what our responsibilities and roles are on that call. But it worked for us because we were outspoken, and we just knew how each other worked,” Scarlett shares.

“My guys always say, ‘I love it when those two are on calls with you. The scene goes so much smoother,’” says Sam.

“We all have our own responsibilities to take care of different issues on calls,” Darci explains. “And I think because of our personalities and the respect we have for each other—knowing how good we are at our jobs—I automatically know that if one of them is there before me, the patient is going to be in a state of betterness because I know they’ve done their job, and I know the scene is safe.”

People who work in law enforcement share a bond, but the bond these women share is rare, and it seems to grow stronger in emergencies.

“I think when you’re outside of emergency services, you don’t quite always understand the severity of the calls we deal with,” says Scarlett. “All of our calls are very different. You can’t just talk to anyone about that, because they don’t understand it. They don’t really see the impact it can have on you or your family.”

Scarlett recalls a time she was chasing a suspect who was known to have weapons. Darci was on that same call.

“Darci drives by in an ambulance and sees me as I’m running into an apartment chasing this person, and she texted me: ‘Text me when you’re done, you better be okay!’

“I see her go in. I’m watching this, and all I can do is know that if something happens, I will take care of her, and vice versa,” says Darci.

“If we know the call, we text each other,” Sam adds. ‘Are you on that? Are you okay? Are you home?‘”

People are noticing the bond and friendship that Scarlett, Darci, and Sam share. The women hope it can lead to sharing training resources among their departments.

“We work together on all these calls, but when we’re done, we just go back to our own little separate entities, and that’s kind of the end of the day. Seeing the relationships and friendships we’ve made has made other people crawl out of those areas more than they have before,” says Darci.

“A lot of officers stick within their own department, but luckily we’ve been able to connect three completely different fields together,” says Scarlett. “As a result, it’s brought everyone’s coworkers together. Because you don’t see a lot of police and firefighters and EMTs together.”

Getting together as friends is the challenge they tackle on a regular basis.

“We do made time,” Scarlett shares. “Whether it’s meeting at my house, watching football on Sundays; or we might meet up for cocktails.”

Scarlett goes on to say the three of them go camping together, watch games together, go to church together, and their kids are friends. And like all best friends, they spend a lot of time talking to each other on the phone.

“It would be easy—especially with how busy we are, whether it’s for work or our lives; our lives are really busy—to not put that time and effort into keeping that friendship. It’s natural to just want to focus on your family, but you still have to focus on yourself, and I think our friendship keeps us who we are. It keeps us grounded.”   

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