By DAN WHITTLE, Courier Correspondent
While you and your family sleep snug at night, who are those people who keep your community functioning safely on the night shift, sometimes called the "midnight shift?"
"It takes a special person with a special temperament who thrives working nights, especially in law enforcement," credits former Rutherford County Sheriff Truman Jones.
Veteran police dispatcher Kris Tringali is one of those who says she thrives on the night shift.
Nurse Matt Abram said he actually prefers the night shift at a major Middle Tennessee hospital.
Smyrna Police Dispatcher Tringali has been doing night shift duty 14 years.
"There's good, even enjoyable situations, such as linking concerned family members up to let them know a loved one is safe," Tringali said. "But then, there's tragedies that happen on any shift, but the night shift seems to have more tragedies than other shifts. It's something different every time '911' is called."
It didn't take long for that first tragedy to happen in the beginning of her law enforcement career.
"I had completed my training on the radio, and as my trainer stepped away for a few moments, leaving me on my own, I got a call … I had to ask what was the code for an airplane crash," Tringali traced back in time. "My very first emergency call … a double-fatality plane crash at nearby Smyrna Airport."
StoneCrest Medical Center Registered Nurse Abram acknowledges "it takes a different type person to thrive on medical night duty."
"I started here 21/2 years ago, never considered going to day shift," Abram prescribed. "For one thing, you don't have as many directors from various departments on duty."
More time with his children, Abram noted, is another benefit.
"In the afternoons, I get to visit two or two-to-three quality hours with our children … we have 6-year-old twin boys and daughter, age 5," Abram accounted. "Since I work 12-hour shifts from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., I'm the parent who is most often home for them in the afternoons."
However, his industry's going to 12-hour shifts the past two decades has changed family and personal life, Abram added.
"My wife is in management of a supply company to the Nissan plant," he noted. "For example, on snow days, it can pose a problem with my 12-hour shift."
Smyrna Police Lt. David Cutshaw recently shared research data about night police officers with the FBI Police Academy.
"There can be 'burnout' from extended duty at night, commonly referred as the midnight shift," Cutshaw shared. "My research, which was taken from police and college studies from throughout the nation, shows that extended time on duty, for example, after 18 hours, we begin to function at the level of a person driving while under the influence.
"Staying on night shift for too long, can cause many problems for an officer," Cutshaw added. "It can even lead to obesity, for example, which most people would not consider."
Smyrna Chief-of-Police Kevin Arnold said he preferred night shift back when he was "single and a patrol officer."
"But, it takes a special temperament for ex-tended night duty," Chief Arnold added. "Our department doesn't shut the doors at 5 o'clock, and go home.
"I liked the night patrol, because there was more activity, and that made the time move faster," Arnold assessed. "I hope the public is aware of those public servants who work and help keep them safe in the wee hours of the night."