Within the Trenches – What Can 9-1-1 Do For You?

The past week has been a busy one. I’ve been doing the usual with work, school and family but I also had the chance to attend the annual NENA conference in Lansing, MI. NENA is the National Emergency Number Association. Those within the world of public safety gather each year for Michigan’s chapter of NENA to share ideas, visit with vendors and attend helpful workshops. This was my first conference. Out of the three-day event I was able to attend on two different days. It felt good to sit among my co-workers and peers. The first day began with motivational speakers from our line of work. The stories were great but the best part of the morning was honoring one of our own from St. Joseph County Central Dispatch. This veteran of 9-1-1 was honored that morning for her 17 years of service in public safety. The emotion could be felt throughout the room as she made her way to the front to accept her award. Recently she has been battling cancer but despite her illness she displayed a smile and attitude that lit the room with joy. She received a standing ovation. Not one person sat until she made her way back to her seat. I felt honored to have been present during her moment of recognition.

The day went on with workshops but it wasn’t until the last day of the conference that I was fully engaged. Two specific workshops brought forth new ideas and understanding between different organizations. The first was entitled Media – Public Safety Relationship, given by Ashley Wioskowski of WWMT News Channel 3. First off, I have to applaud her for giving this talk. She was alone in a room full of public safety workers and when it comes to the media we don’t always mesh. Picture the feud between the police agencies in the movie Super Troopers. Can you picture it? Well, it’s not exactly like that but you get the picture. If you think about it, it’s rather sad. We have a similar goal when it comes to the public and that’s really what Wioskowski was talking about. She wanted to help us understand her side and explained that we need to find a way to bridge the gap. The workshop helped me understand the media side and although Wioskowski announced to the room that she was nervous, she was very professional and I was impressed.

Dee Wachele and her colleagues of “911 The Number To Know“, a national education campaign out of Indiana, presented the following workshop. It was done in two parts and the topic of discussion was based on public education of 9-1-1. This was very interesting because my training coordinator and I had recently spoken about this. You would be amazed at how many people have no idea what we actually do in dispatch or what to do when an emergency occurs. Now, as much as I want to explain everything that was said during this workshop, I’m going to wait. My reason for waiting is because I want to compare your answers with what I know to the next question I’m going to ask. So…if you were given the opportunity to attend a 9-1-1 Public Education workshop, what would you like to learn? It might sound like a stupid question but not many schools out there teach our children about 9-1-1. There might even be some parts of 9-1-1 that you yourself are unaware of. Make sure to comment on this post so we can generate some discussion. Thank you very much to Michigan’s chapter of NENA for holding this conference once again. A big thanks also goes out to Dee Wachele, and Ashley Wioskowski for the excellent workshops and to Lois of St. Joseph County Central Dispatch. You’re strength, warm smile, and years of service made me proud to do what I do every day.

(Below is a little something from Longmont, CO. to get the juices flowing on 9-1-1 Ed.)