Author: Kristin McKinney

Through the Eyes of a Telecommunicator

Through the Eyes of a Telecommunicator

Written by Bret Batchelor, 9-1-1 Training Coordinator

I’m disappointed in the staffing crisis facing most 9-1-1 centers in America because I have sat in the seat and heard the calling.  Unfortunately, negativity spreads faster that the positive and the position of a 9-1-1 telecommunicator has gotten a bad rap.  I would like to adjust our perspective when recruiting for this career. Let’s focus on the positives, and there are a lot of them.  We are starting to see the changing of the guard in our Emergency Communication Centers. These new faces at the console will help shape the next generation of 9-1-1 telecommunicators as they rise to the challenge of serving our communities.

 

Working as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator is such a vital position and it can become an important career.  However, it begins as an entry level job.  The good part about this is you don’t need any specific education beyond a high school diploma, and it doesn’t require an advanced skill set to start. You can graduate high school with no prior experience and start in a career making a decent salary with good benefits including city/county retirement.  With opportunities for advancement and career growth this is just the beginning.

 

Are you a morning person, late night person, or do you enjoy the in between?  Perfect! The career of public safety gives you the flexibility to choose what is best for your life and have variety from day one of your career. Imagine you complete your work shift at 10 P.M., go hang out with your friends all night, sleep until noon and you don’t have to report back to work until 2 P.M.? Does that sound like something you would enjoy? There are many options with many different schedules available. The unique nature of shift work and changing schedules often allows variety. Whether you are trying to attend college while working or accommodating a family schedule, shift work provides you with options.  Working overnights most of my career allowed me to be off duty during the day to sleep, shop, and run errands all alone while everyone else was working. With days off during the week, I was able to go to the movies, theme parks and enjoy activities that are normally busy on the weekends. Also, no lines and often even enjoyed a discount.

 

Each call can bring you something different. In a society where we are glued to our devices to stay engaged and entertained, this field WILL keep your attention. Every shift brings new adventures and experiences. The rush of the vehicle pursuit, providing that lifesaving instruction, delivering a baby, coordinating a location perimeter for a tactical incident, and handling a huge fire call can all be very exciting, but you will also get the simple and even silly calls.  In fact, all those types of calls could come in the same day. The rush of the unknown and thrill of each task can be truly addicting. You may never want to take the headset off!

 

In the seat as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator, you play the role of the ‘oracle’ for the first responders. You are not just fulfilling each request from customers (citizens and first responders) but also anticipating those needs before they are made. As a 9-1-1 telecommunicator, we are not just on the phone or radio, we are with callers and responders ‘on scene’, helping them navigate each scenario anyway you can. The goal is to keep our citizens safe and make sure every first responder goes home each night. It is exciting to be able to have access to all the ‘important’ information, and to be on the side that really knows what is happening. 9-1-1 telecommunicators are an important link of the chain that helps get the bad guys, helps those in need or uncovers the missing pieces.

 

Joining the field of public safety has never been more exciting! We are on the cutting edge of technological advancements and the new generation of 9-1-1 telecommunicators will start to shape the future of our industry. To have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor as this industry continues to grow exponentially is incredible.  We are seeing advancement in this field like never before.

 

Are you an adrenaline junkie?

Do you love the variety of spice in your career daily?

Do you love solving puzzles and overcoming challenges and drama?

Do you like calling the shots?

Do you want to know every day when you go home you are making a difference?

 

If you answer yes to those questions, then you need to think about joining the 9-1-1 telecommunicators family and becoming part of the Thin Gold Line. Apply here to saves lives and make a difference today! You can find all of the open positions at our 9-1-1 Emergency Call Centers here: https://www.nct911.org/work-for-an-ecc/.

Rise Up

Rise Up

I keep reading about the Great Resignation and researching why there has been such a mass exodus from the workplace. Of course, I am particularly interested in the staffing crisis in the 9-1-1 call centers. I want to understand it better so we can develop some new strategies to recruit and retain amazing 9-1-1 telecommunicators. But this is not an article full of those answers. It is instead the sharing of information and some food for thought.

 

I recently learned about Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. and his service in both World War I and World War II. After serving in World War I he went into politics for a while and then returned to the business world and was the Chairman of the Board of American Express. He had made significant accomplishments by the time World War II broke out. In his 50s he could have stayed at home and maintained an easier life than the one he chose. He had a heart for service and felt he could contribute to the war efforts and after serving in the reserves, he returned to active duty. But he didn’t stop there, he wrote a letter begging for a part in the Allied invasion of Europe. He stated, “If you ask me, I will swim in with a 105 strapped on my back.” He stated that he knew officers and men in the units and believed that it would steady them to know that he was with them. His request was granted, and he was the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops and was the oldest man in the invasion at 56. While he didn’t have to swim in with a gun on his back, he landed at Utah Beach walking with a cane and carrying a pistol. He was calm in crisis and inspired his troops with humor and confidence, reciting poetry and telling stories of his father to steady the nerves of his men. As he stood on the front lines under enemy fire, soldiers stated they were inspired to move forward, for if a general could do it, so could they.

 

This story reminded me of something I heard following the Boston Marathon bombing. The presenter was telling his story and stated that everyone was running away from the scene. Everyone except for public safety professionals, who were running into the chaos. I have thought of that ever since. When everyone else is running to safety, the people in our industry run into the chaos. I have often wondered what those folks at the marathon were thinking. “I’ve got to get out of here. I need to get to safety.” And I imagine the public safety professionals were thinking, “I’ve got to get in there. I can contribute. I need to help”. . .

 

Recently one of my good friends retired after a very successful career of over 40 years in public safety communications. She left a legacy, had made a difference and left her mark. Not two years later, she left a happy retirement to become the executive director of a large 9-1-1 entity. When I asked her why she simply replied, “I realized I’m not done yet.” You see, during the Great Resignation when so many were leaving their jobs, Sherry Decker knew she could contribute and took up her calling – again.

 

I’m sure you see the pattern by now, people do whatever people are doing in society. And then there are a small percentage of great people who rise up and serve. Public safety professionals are those rising up and serving. You continued to do your jobs serving the public throughout the pandemic, you go to work on holidays and birthdays and you work the tough shifts. You work despite bad hours, low pay, and little recognition. You work because you love helping others.

 

I am so proud to work among all of these great people! You are all servant leaders, despite your job titles and you are all making a difference – every day. If you are in the industry and are considering getting out (unless it is for wellness reasons), I urge you to remember why you got into public safety to begin with. That memory is your mission, that is your calling. You are doing the good work and it is appreciated! They might not have told you, but there are people all over who have been helped or comforted in the worst moments of their lives through a 9-1-1 call. There are lives that have been saved and people who are thankful. You are saving lives and making a difference! You do not have to be part of the Great Resignation, you can be part of the Great Transition to Next Generation 9-1-1!

 

– Christy Williams, Director of 9-1-1

Spring Break Safety Tips

Spring Break Safety Tips

Spring break is often a much-needed break from the stress of your everyday life.  For some that means rest and relaxation, but for others spring break means taking a trip.  An essential part of enjoying spring break is making sure everyone stays safe. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Watch the weather so you are prepared and can go to a safe place fast.
  • Stay hydrated and healthy, especially if you are in the sun or participating in physical activities.
  • Always protect your things by locking valuables in your trunk or hotel safe.
  • Don’t overshare on social media and consider changing your privacy settings during your trip.
  • Use the buddy system.  Stay close to friends, and make sure everyone is always accounted for.

 

In addition to these tips, it is very important that you are aware of your location in case you have an emergency and need to call 9-1-1 for help.  The 9-1-1 call center may have your location based on the call and their maps, but it is not always available or accurate.  The 9-1-1 telecommunicator may count on you as the caller to answer questions to assist the first responders in locating you.  Know your surroundings and pay attention to street signs and landmarks.

Some 9-1-1 call centers, including those in the North Central Texas 9-1-1 region, have adopted what3words to complement existing methods of validating caller locations.  A free app, what3words, has divided the world into 10ft squares and given each square a unique three-word identifier.  This is especially useful when you are on a body of water, trails, fields, parks or any other location that does not have roads and 9-1-1 addressing.  Loading this free app will allow you to plan in advance if you will be in an off-road area.  If there is an emergency, simply open the app, press the location icon and read out the what3words address to the 9-1-1 telecommunicator.   For more information about what3words, visit what3words.com.

 

Having what3words isn’t just for emergency reporting though.  It can also be a good way to share a meet up place with friends or even plan a scavenger hunt for your spring break staycation.  Enjoy your time off but remember to be safe.  Using these simple tips and a little bit of planning can make your spring break a big success!

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #012

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #012

ARLINGTON, Texas, March 4, 2022 — The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) will graduate 18 9-1-1 telecommunicators from its Regional Telecommunicator Academy (RTA) Class #012 on March 4 in Arlington. This class includes recruits from 7 different agencies, including Terrell PD, Wise Co SO, Greenville PD, Waxahachie PD, Ellis Co SO, Collin Co SO, among others.

 

The graduating recruits will have completed a rigorous four-week program that teaches equipment use, state mandates and regulations, how to handle emergency communications situations such as active shootings, and more. Texas is the only state in the country that requires its telecommunicators to be licensed alongside peace officers and jailers, and NCT9-1-1 hosts the only 9-1-1 telecommunicator academy in the state. The district welcomes recruits from outside its region to participate and this year includes participants from Irving PD.

 

“At the academy, we’re not just training people to fill positions,” said NCT9-1-1 Training Coordinator Bret Batchelor. “We’re building a community of resiliency and comradery with our recruits. I want them to walk away with the skills to not only be successful at their new jobs, but to build a lifelong career as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator and to one day pass on their experiences to the next generation of dispatchers.” 

 

The program has graduated recruits from all over Texas and Arkansas since its inception in February of 2016 and continues to grow with classes held twice a year in the winter and summer.    

       

About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) is responsible for 40 plus Emergency Communication Centers (ECCs) in the 13 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The district supports these ECCs through maintaining and upgrading 9-1-1 equipment, providing up-to-date mapping information, training 9-1-1 telecommunicators, educating the public on the proper use of 9-1-1, and monitoring ECC functionality and compliances. NCT9-1-1 serves a population of 1.7 million and 10,000+ square miles.