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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.

Can I text 911? Depends!

Can I text 911? Depends!

Yes, you can text 911! In certain areas at least. The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) was the first to introduce text-to-911 in Texas, and many other 911 authorities or individual agencies have implemented the service as well. But we still receive a lot of questions about texting 911, so we’ve highlighted some of the frequently asked questions we get. 

Where Can I Text 911?  

Text-to-911 is available in some parts of the country. It is estimated that about 20% of the country has implemented text, but it is still a widely unknown service even in activated regions. The communities in the NCT911 service area have been able to text 911 since 2013, but we still see that about 85% of people reaching out to 911 do so with a cell phone using voice. 

Find out if your area has text-to-911 here (Embed: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/what-you-need-know-about-text-911). 

How Do I Text 911? 

Texting 911 is the same as texting anyone else. Just open your text messaging app, enter “911” into the send field, and type out your message. When texting 911 it’s important that you include your location information in that first text so 911 telecommunicators can dispatch help to you as soon as possible.  

You also need to include the type of emergency service you need, such as police, fire, or EMS, and give the 911 telecommunicator a description of the emergency you’re experiencing. For example, a text to 911 might read: 

“Help, I’m on the corner of Main Street and Wallaby Way, we need police and a paramedic. I just witnessed an accident.” 

If text-to-911 is not available, you will receive a bounce-back text requesting that you call 911 instead. 

When Should I Text 911? 

For now, the best way to reach 911 is with a voice call. However, if you are unable to call or if it is unsafe for you to call, you can text instead if the service is available in your area. We recommend calling when you can over texting because 911 telecommunicators use background noise to help build situational awareness, and it prevents a delay in communication when speaking rather than texting.  

Remember: call if you can, text if you can’t.