Dr. Jasper Yung, an emergency physician in the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital  emergency department, will be working on Christmas Day this year, and he  said his colleagues help make the ER feel like home.

Dr. Jasper Yung, an emergency physician in the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital emergency department, will be working on Christmas Day this year, and he said his colleagues help make the ER feel like home.

Photo by Sean Work


Metro Detroiters share experiences with working on holidays

By: Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published December 17, 2018

 Road Commission for Oakland County foreman Bode Martin stands by the salt dome  at the RCOC’s Southfield garage on Franklin Road. He knows what it’s like to work during the holidays.

Road Commission for Oakland County foreman Bode Martin stands by the salt dome at the RCOC’s Southfield garage on Franklin Road. He knows what it’s like to work during the holidays.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 The West Bloomfield Police Department is all lit up for the holidays.

The West Bloomfield Police Department is all lit up for the holidays.

Photo provided by the West Bloomfield Police Department

METRO DETROIT  — There’s no place like home for the holidays — with family gatherings, stories of yesteryear and delicious meals.

But for some, it’s another day at the office, whether that office is in a squad car, inside an emergency room or behind a snowplow.

Dr. Jasper Yung, an emergency physician in the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital emergency department, will be working on Christmas Day this year.

Yung said that his responsibilities on the holiday will be “very similar” to his daily job duties.

“The responsibility of an emergency room physician (is) if anything should happen … from a cough, cold, upset stomachs to somebody losing their airway, a stroke, or even traumas from car accidents or anything that comes along … we will be managing.”

Yung said that holidays can be “extremely busy” or “fairly calm,” depending on how active people are.

Holiday meals can result in allergic reactions, choking or other food-related issues.

Yung said he often works on New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving. He and his staff split up the coverage of holidays.

“Some people have higher priorities based on family, based on children,” he said. “If it is Labor Day, Fourth of July, some people might have plans to go on trips with their families.”

Yung said that when he does work a shift on a holiday, his hospital colleagues make it feel like a home away from home.

“Everybody that is working there on the holidays, it feels like ... very family-oriented; a lot of times around the holidays, we do have potlucks,” he said. “Last year … we had, like, sparkling apple cider, food … made a quick toast as the new year comes around.”

The toast was quick, because not too long after, Yung had to oversee an emergency situation with a patient who was critical and whose airway had closed.

Yung said he wants to help patients so they can be around their families for more holidays to come.

“It is a way to help other family members. … It is not an easy time, no matter what, especially during the holidays, when everybody gets together,” he said.

Officer Michael Szybisty, of the West Bloomfield Police Department, said his job is to ensure people remain safe when they gather together.

The officer — who will be on road patrol in eight-hour shifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day — said that he has worked with the Police Department for just over two years.

“I joined law enforcement in general because I wanted to help people — it is a new experience every day,” Szybisty said. “There is never that same thing every day.”

Szybisty said there are many opportunities for an officer to move up in the ranks, and the “high morale” and family-like atmosphere in the police force were draws for him too.

“(You are) treated as family, which is very nice,” he said. He was able to spend Thanksgiving with his own family this year, and he said the holidays are what you make them.

“Ultimately, with family, we see each other when we can.”

He added that working on the holidays is tough, but it helps him to appreciate the time he has with his family — regardless of the date.

“Just because we don’t get together on a certain day does not mean that we can’t celebrate whatever holiday that is; we may celebrate (Christmas) on the 27th or 28th,” he said. “But it is more about bringing your family together, is what makes that holiday.”

Szybisty said that on Christmas, he will be assigned to the afternoon road patrol, one of “the police officers you see out and about in their squad cars.” He is also an instructor trained in mental health and first aid in youth and adults, which helps him in his position.

“We are always extra patrolling our schools, our places of worship, our neighborhoods. Customer service within the West Bloomfield Police Department is a huge deal to us, and I know that our community appreciates us. So we try and be able to give back to our community,” he said. “We try and remain as proactive and visible during the holidays to kind of help keep crime to a minimum.”

Jeremy Marek, owner of the Canton-based Marek’s Landscaping, said he does snow removal in metro Detroit, including Royal Oak, Southfield, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield and beyond.

Marek — who has been in the business since the early 2000s — said that it can be hard to work on the holidays, and it’s hard working around the holidays.

“You have to do your work first; then you have to schedule the holidays around it,” he said. Because removing snow and putting down salt are safety issues, time is of the essence.

“You have to be there in a timely manner,” he said, adding that last Christmas Eve, time was ticking. He and his 14-member staff had to remove about 3 inches of snow, which took about 15 hours.

Marek plows and shovels commercial and residential properties, including subdivisions.

He said that when he sees other snowplow drivers on the road, there is a mutual respect.

“We don’t get into the way; everybody knows we try to be careful and watch out for each other,” Marek said.

Road Commission for Oakland County foreman Bode Martin said that with his work, there is “always something different.”

“Sometimes it might be scraping debris out of the road or getting a road hazard out of the road, and other times it is working 16 hours and plowing snow, making sure the roads are clear,” Martin said.

He said that, like Marek, he worked on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day last year, plowing snow for about 16 hours.

He was called in to work from about 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve to about 10 a.m. on Christmas Day to relieve another person who had worked 16 hours prior to that. Martin, however, was able to fit in spending time with his family — including two young children — by having breakfast with them before working.

“Last year I spent all afternoon with them and then had to work. I saw them Christmas morning, of course,” he said. “You just tell yourself that it is your job. It is what you signed up for. It is what you get paid to do.”

Martin said that everybody is well aware of his job duties and expectations.

“I take it very seriously,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s what we do here, and the weather has no clock or calendar. It comes when it wants to, and we have to deal with it.”