A tough end to a heroic career

Published 9:40 am Tuesday, August 17, 2021

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His final dispatch wasn’t an easy one.

With a plaque in one hand to commemorate his retirement, Philip Morris swiftly turned his attention to a Shelby County 911 call at his father’s address.

Without hesitation, the 23-year veteran in the office turned his attention from the celebratory occasion around him and was forced to dispatch responders to a death in the field call at his dad’s house.

In that moment, he knew he had a job to do despite the heartbreaking reality.

Then, when he hung up the phone for the final time, it sunk in. He had not only just dispatched his final call working for Shelby County 911, but it was a call confirming the death of his father.

For Morris, who had answered some of the most difficult and traumatic phone calls imaginable in his role, it was this one that will now stick with him for the rest of his life.

However, the tragic moment was just another example of the selfless life he lived serving others in an extreme time of need.

Morris did immediately go to his supervisor, who he had just got done taking a picture with holding his retirement plaque on his final day, and said he knew he wasn’t going to be OK and needed to go immediately.

But in the moment, he took the call like he had so many for 23 years—in a calm manor to help get himself and his family through trying moment.

Throughout his career, Morris helped women deliver babies over the phone before EMS could arrive, while also handling difficult situations such as heart attacks, shootings, suicide and much more.

As the first person many people talk to in their most traumatic and vulnerable state, he was their sense of calm in a time of need.

He knew he likely would never meet the person or hear from them again, but he wanted to do his part in keeping them calm and hopefully help them through a trying moment in life.

It was a service he knew he wanted to provide ever since seeing four tragic deaths before the age of 19.

Morris said he felt that was a calling to be there for people during a tragic moment.

So every day, he showed up at work and did just that, taking several distressing calls and dispatching responders into difficult situations.

But every step of the way, he did it in a way where he was almost in the room holding the hand of the person who needed him most.

That’s a heroic career that can’t go unappreciated.