Let’s be honest. I’ve been pretty excited since I found out I’d won the Within the Trenches continuing education scholarship. I live in a coastal, college town so summer starts in March. With the weather getting warmer – the calls are getting crazier. This was a good opportunity to step away and reframe things. I left work Friday, June 10 and packed for a flight that left Wilmington around 0700 Saturday morning. The 2016 NENA Conference was held at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The conference brought public safety employees and vendors- from telecommunicators to PSAP Directors; IT guys, network architects, and others – together to discuss the state of the industry and technological advancements in the field as well as future trends. Classes were offered in professional development, training, leadership/management, etc. Sunday’s pre-conference class, Cybersecurity in the PSAP, was by far my favorite. It took on different types of cyber threats that occur in today’s society and looked at methods PSAP’s can use to combat threats and keep their networks secure. Sunday night closed out with the Kickoff Celebration. Georgia St got shut down by NENA members and Wally and the Beavs! A food truck is one of my favorite things in the world. There was a diverse selection (I passed up barbecue for a killer Chicago style dog. I heard the OR Pulled Chicken was pretty good too.) It was nice to mingle with the crowd and get to know some faces. I was able to step out of my comfort zone and find some common ground with new people and gain perspective. We talked shop, television (there aren’t enough episodes of The First 48 to satisfy me), and compared how we do things. NextGen9-1-1 was a major focus. The technology that’s involved and the fact that we are soon going to be able to see videos, to add to the texts and voice we have now – it’s pretty impressive to see where things are headed. Keynote speakers included Jake Wood of Team Rubicon, Boston bombing hero Dr. Natalie Stavas, and Chief Rick Lasky, a career firefighter and chief who emphasizes the importance of family in public safety. To say it was inspiring is an understatement. I was able to take in classes to learn tips on how to work towards being a true leader – to lead by example. Stress management and resiliency also seemed to be common themes. It was good to learn some information I could take back for myself and share with my team. I managed to fit in a little fun here and there after classes too: an afternoon run downtown by Indy’s Canal Walk; Motorola’s reception at the Mavis Arts Center; A baseball game after the Young Professional’s mixer at Victory Field; a tour of Indianapolis’ Airport Authority AOC/EOC… the list goes on. One of the cool parts of the week was getting a chance to check out the vendors and exhibitors! Some of the products I use every day, that make my work easier, were on display. I saw some programs I wish I could get my hands on. An adult moment? Completely staring at a certain dispatch console setup: slick monitors, LED lights, stand/raised console and wishing I could have it (there was even a cup holder for my Venti blonde roast) Total furniture envy took over. INdigital’s own Indy car arcade game set up was a hit with members (made me wish I didn’t suck at video games. The Division makes me want to break things in my house). Even though they weren’t in their normal roles, people still stepped up to help others. The events that happened in Orlando occurred; it was heavy. At the blood drive, there was a line of folks waiting to donate blood. A white sign with a simple hashtag greeted those folks: #OrlandoStrong. The people at this conference save lives every day, why were these days any different? Opportunity. The word has presented itself so much lately. I was fortunate to get to attend a conference where I met folks that I aspire to be like. It made me realize how important what we are all out here doing REALLY is. We can have a broad reach if we work hard to educate people on the 911 system. This was my first but definitely won’t be the last. NENA 2017 in San Antonio looks pretty attractive! Here’s to Ricardo and the people at INdigital that made this possible – you’ve paid it forward. Time to keep it going.
To learn more about Leslie please listen to her tell her story on episode 111 of the podcast below.