RAMAPO, N.Y. -- Former Ramapo police dispatcher Eileen Maschak has spent a lifetime dealing with emergencies, both small and large.
The Rockland mother of two has also just about heard and seen it all during her 33 years as a fire and police dispatcher.
Weekends and holidays? She has worked too many away from her family and friends to recall.
But when Maschak, who officially retired last Saturday, and hung up her headphones for the last time, she had no regrets – except, maybe, that she wasn’t fast enough on her feet.
“I was halfway out the door, but I turned around to answer one last call,” Maschak said, chuckling.
That level of dedication is not surprising considering her many years of community service.
Maschak started out as a volunteer with an ambulance corps in Yonkers, where she grew up.
Eventually, she became one of the first civilian dispatchers for the Yonkers Fire Department and later worked with the city’s police force after the two agencies merged.
Maschak has also worked as an emergency services dispatcher for the village of Haverstraw.
She spent the last 22 years of her career in Ramapo.
Between posts, she took some time off to raise two kids.
In a Facebook post, Ramapo police thanked Maschak for her “professional and dedicated service to the department and the town.”
“We hope you have a long and happy retirement, you will be missed,” the post reads.
One of Maschak’s first jobs involved a teletype and a corded switchboard; now dispatchers sit in front of an array of computer screens and use gadgets like GPS.
“We’ve come a long way,” she says.
But while the times and technology may have changed, Maschak's love for the job itself hasn’t.
"We speak to callers on their worst days, and offer help until police, fire, or EMS arrive," she says. "We are trained to give emergency medical directions and sometimes are able to save lives before help can arrive."
“It’s good to help, whether it’s a big emergency, a little one, or just to give someone directions,” she says.
And what does she plan to do, now that she’s a free woman with lots of time on her hands?: Relax and enjoy having weekends and holidays off.
And, maybe a little volunteering?
“We’ll see,” Maschak says.