Good morning everyone! It has been a while since I posted an episode but I have been busy like you wouldn’t believe. Working the private sector has been fun, rewarding and busy! In this bonus episode I talk about what has been going on in my life, my personal dispatch stories that made me cry and what it has been like to transition from the hot seat to the 9-1-1 office chair. New episodes will be recorded weekly once again so stay tuned! As always you can email the show at email@example.com. Also don’t forget to check out The Nocturnal Dispatcher at the links below.
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By Ricardo — 4 years ago
A while back I posted on the show’s Facebook fan page regarding dispatch stories and guest posts. Up until about a week ago I had not received anything but recently I met a fellow dispatcher who was more than willing to share her story. Her enthusiasm and love for the job led her to many years of service behind the mic as well as becoming a writer, speaker and advocate. It is my hope that this inspiring story will encourage more people in the 9-1-1 community to step forward and share their story as a guest blog post or be a guest on the show. A big thanks goes out to Kathy for sharing her story and years of service. Please comment below, share this post and if you would like to do a guest post of your story please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject of “Within the Trenches – Dispatch Stories.” And without further ado, the dispatch story of Kathy.
“I joined Bay Shore Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance in the very early 80’s as a dispatcher because I couldn’t have managed the time constraints of EMT school. I was already working full time, going to school full time and raising my son alone. All I could manage, I thought, was the 6-8 hours a week to volunteer as a dispatcher. Because of all the other things I was doing, I chose to be a midnight dispatcher. The dispatch system was, in hindsight, so archaic. They allowed us to dispatch from home with a portable radio and home phone ~ but with an in house crew. There wasn’t always an in house crew so my living about half an hour away from Headquarters was a problem. The “tones” would go off and I would call HQ to see who was in the house and if anyone else was responding. More often than not we (Dispatchers) didn’t even know who was on the rig until they were back at HQ after the call when and if they called me to square away times etc. My job was to listen to the portable and jot down the times as heard between my rig and Med Com (Medical Communications). Every Dispatcher was responsible for lining up an overnight crew whether they pulled duty from home or HQ. If no crew was available, we then had to call Med Com and 24 the call to a neighboring Agency. As senseless as all that seemed to me, even back then, the Dispatcher didn’t seem to be all that important to the “riding” members. That really bugged me because every chance I got I went on calls with many of them to observe. I was soon voted into the Supervisor Of Dispatch position, which at that time was an Officers position. This was even before there was a Board of Directors at most Volunteer Ambulance Companies. As Supervisor my responsibilities grew and I found myself spending an awful lot of time at HQ. Dispatching from home was no longer an option but my position was met with great resistance by Heads of other Committees because, after all, I was just a Dispatcher. What could I possibly know about what type of crew was needed for which emergency? THIS bugged me to no end. There were charges filed against me and vice versa and was something that was constantly being addressed at the Officers Meetings. Shortly thereafter the members of BSBRA formulated the differences between the Officers and what we were inducting as The Board Of Directors. This delineation was eliminating the Officers position of Supervisor of Dispatch. Not the position itself but as an Officer. After a while, the politics and egos of all the new positions was just too much drama for me. I had been having serious health issues so I resigned from Bay Shore Rescue.
When my health returned I joined Brentwood Legion Ambulance. THEY seemed to appreciate the position of Dispatcher and were interested and excited about what I could bring to their organization having been at Bay Shore. There seemed to be a lot of walk in patients HQ by members of our community where only a Dispatcher was in house. I saw that as a problem and started looking in to how we could better train Dispatchers to assist the riding members with situations such as this. I had heard about the National Academy Of Emergency Medical Dispatchers (NAEMD) based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. This certification enabled a Dispatcher to give life saving instructions over the phone to stabilize a patient while dispatching an appropriate crew depending on the color code of the call. It didn’t do much to solve the “walk in” situation but did take Dispatching to a whole other level. Now to figure out how to get this done. I had also heard that Miles Quinn from Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services had actually taken the steps needed to have his Dispatchers Certified. I, as a Dispatcher, couldn’t seem to get an appointment with the Board of Directors to address this situation so I asked Miles Quinn if he would address our Board and explain the whole thing and all it’s possibilities. He agreed, met with the Board and the Board said they would be interested IF it didn’t cost them any money. Back in the early 90’s, the cost per Dispatcher/per 3 day course was in the mid $200 range. I saw that as a challenge. I figured out that if Brentwood actually holds the classes and books enough Dispatchers, our Dispatchers would all be trained for free. First order of business was to get a listing of ALL Agencies in the Tri State area that used Dispatchers whether paid or volunteer and do a mailing. The feedback and interest was great ~ much more than I had anticipated. It was so exciting to see that process take on a momentum all it’s own. Long story short we at BLA, at my direction, held a good 8-10 classes of maybe 50 Dispatchers each. The classes lasted three full days, I had made arrangements with a local hotel to house a block of out of town Dispatchers for a discounted rate ~ I served coffee, tea and bagels and got hundreds of Dispatchers Nationally Certified through NAEMD. The New England Journal of Emergency Medicine interviewed me for an article they were running, printing portions of the letters I sent out to the various Agencies in the Tri State area ~ most of whom were from all over the State of New York. It, very quickly, became mandatory for ALL Dispatchers to have NAEMD Certification before dispatching anywhere. I stayed with Brentwood for a while longer and then my life took yet another turn and had to resign. I kept my EMD certification for a number of years recertifying when needed.
As a result of all my involvement with EMS and having worked in several ER’s simultaneously through the years my son, who was raised while I was at Bay Shore and joined Brentwood with me, became a member in Bay Shore and eventually became one of their Chiefs. Now my oldest grandchild is joining an explorer group with Brentwood becoming third generation Whittaker volunteering for a Rescue Squad making me extremely proud of everything I have managed to do. Yes, there are MANY people who have done much more than I but it is my experience you asked me about and this pretty much sums it up. Now all these years later, I am no longer EMD certified but the status of Emergency Medical Dispatcher has forever changed and continues to go forward. I am registered with the Smart911 Pulse Point system so that if someone in my area goes into cardiac arrest I will be alerted via my smartphone and respond to the scene pending an ambulance. The position of Dispatcher, for advanced as it has become, is still (in my humble opinion) under rated. I do, however, have great faith it will continue to grow and can only hope it will, one day, get the respect it deserves! Thank you for taking an interest in my history as a Dispatcher.”Post Views: 96
By Ricardo — 4 years ago
Good afternoon! This episode is sponsored by NENA and INdigital. I am currently in Nashville, TN for the 2014 National NENA Conference and this is just one of a series of episodes I’m recording here. In this episode I spoke with Dana, a dispatcher with Sumpter County Sheriff’s Office out of Florida and a Friends of 911 Scholarship winner. This is a must listen for anyone looking for information on not only the conference but how to apply for next years Friends of 9-1-1 scholarship. We also spoke briefly on the Mini-C that Dana attended back in April and the hard work that Tom of the Cool Kids of 9-1-1 puts into the conference.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to be a guest on the show, send an email to email@example.com.
Episode topics –
Dana recap of the Mini-C
Friends of 9-1-1 Scholarship Process
Where Dana sees herself in 9-1-1
Drunk dial 9-1-1 tape (Thanks Justin!)Post Views: 110
By Ricardo — 3 years ago
After hosting Within the Trenches’ first conference appearance three years ago in Florida and sending about a dozen interviewees Ricardo’s way, I’ve luckily managed this whole time to stay away from the mic myself. Well, he has finally talked me into taking the baby step of being a guest blogger here to let you all know about the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) Navigator 2015 Conference (http://www.emergencydispatch.org/NAVIGATOR/) this week in Las Vegas, Nevada, where I will be presenting a session on dispatcher stress coping mechanisms and therapies like EMDR and Psychodrama.
I’m Tom, from the Cool Kids of 9-1-1 (Shameless Plug #1: www.facebook.com/CoolKidsof911). After 24 years in this industry, I’m certainly not a kid anymore, and have probably long ago lost any grip on “cool” I might have thought I once held. But give us a “like” and check out all of our other social medias on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Our good friend Dispatch Dana helps us with those sites and hashtags. We post about current 9-1-1 events almost daily, and aren’t afraid to be a little edgy with our opinions, photos, commentary, and parody songs. You definitely want to see the parody song video.
Now, I have to say that IAED’s Navigator Conference is my personal favorite of all the major conferences, for a number of reasons. The frequency of it being held in Las Vegas is just one of them. The vendor show is always packed with companies displaying their latest products, the camaraderie of being among other like-minded public safety protocol-believing users, and some truly entertaining and inspiring educational sessions, if I may be so bold to claim so on my fellow presenters’ behalf. Navigator is the conference where I first met PSTC’s Kevin Willett and Lexipol’s Gordon Graham. They have both been instrumental in helping to fulfill my dream of hosting them locally in South Florida at our annual pre-NPSTW miniature training conference (“the Mini C”). All of the presenters are very approachable, and willing to hand out their business cards and contact information for further discussions. Last year I presented 9-1-1:101 The College Classroom Experience, a how-to guide to start a dispatch academy with your local community or state college (Shameless Plug #2: www.911DispatchAcademy.com OnLine class starting August24th!). I also presented Your PSAP is a 747, relating lessons learned from airplane crash investigations and crew resource management and mistake prevention techniques in a 9-1-1 dispatch center.
For this year’s Navigator, on Thursday April 30th, at 1:45pm, I will be joined by Dr. Marlo Archer of the Arizona Psychodrama Institute for a session titled Up From the Pavement, which is named after her self-published book (Shameless Plug #3: www.lulu.com 30% off through May 28, no code required!). Our session will be focusing on stress identification and coping mechanisms for dispatchers, as they relate to the 8 points of the NENA Stress Standard NENA-STA-002, and in light of Dr. Marlo’s own personal experience on the other side of a 9-1-1 call. In 2008, Dr. Marlo was run over by a Buick while on her motorcycle. She chronicled the traumatic injury and her amazing recovery from it, in a series of blog posts that were then compiled into her book. The crash also gave her plenty of time alone with her thoughts to be reflective on her life and family relationships woven in stories throughout the book.
Did you know NENA had a Stress Standard? The handout we are giving out lists the 8 points of this standard, and the document can become item #1 in your On-Site PSAP Educational Materials Library; something you really can take with you! You should be getting at least 8 hours of Stress Management training every year (hey, we’re giving you your first one of these, too!). Are your Communications personnel participating in Critical Incident Stress Management events? Do you have an Employee Assistance Program? How about a Personal Health Incentivizing program? You can bet there will be console treadmills out on the vendor floor to try out.
“More important than any of these tools, however, is the telecommunications employee. The employee can work without any of that technology, but the technology is wholly dependent on the employee to carry out its function.”
These are some of the words that were on one of the final memos I wrote as a 9-1-1 Communications Manager. I don’t think “we” are taking care of our 9-1-1 employees as well as we should. I think we overlook those who are stressed out, and don’t pay enough attention to the real possibilities of compassion fatigue and PTSD in our colleagues and co-workers. Dr. Jim Marshall of the 911 Wellness Foundation introduced me to EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and Dr. Marlo has personally helped me with Psychodrama techniques.
Attendees appreciate a fast-moving presentation that delivers on what is promised in the brochure abstract. These one hour sessions aren’t a lot of time to delve deeply into these expansive topics. But they can be used to inspire further research, or open up communication with the presenters and share ideas and information. Another thing that bothers me is that often line-level employees who most need this information aren’t the ones chosen by their departments to attend these out of state conferences. I have also seen people in those positions use their time to have their own vacation rather than attend sessions and bring back this information to benefit their centers. To battle against this, my next 9-1-1 project will involve bringing these types of sessions directly to 9-1-1 public safety telecommunicators via an online format, hopefully this summer.
So, if you’re in Las Vegas this week, take a break from the evil slot machines, dice, and card games and come see our session and any of the others Wed-Fri April 29-May 1 at the Paris hotel. If you happen to catch me on a slot machine, please drag me away and we’ll go see a Cirque du Soleil show together!
Please visit the links below and check out Tom and Dr. Marlo on Thursday April 30th, at 1:45pm at the 2015 IAED’s Navigator Conference for a talk you don’t want to miss!
Up from the pavement handout (Navigator 2015) – Click here to downloadPost Views: 196