CRESA Always Here, Always Ready

Posts in category 9-1-1

So You Want to Be a 911 Dispatcher? Join the CRESA Team

Are you cool under pressure?  Do you think you have what it take to help callers on what may be their worst day?   When the caller makes the call to 911, it often is when they are mentally and physically at their worst.  Unless someone sits in their chair, on the radio, tethered to the phone for hours and hours, listening to what they listen to, you’ll never understand how it feels and what it takes to be a 9-1-1 Dispatcher!

Why do we share this?  Being a 9-1-1 Dispatcher isn’t an easy job. Dispatchers often are bombarded with calls and work between 10 and 12 hours a day with few opportunities for breaks and no time to reset between calls.  It takes the right type of personality to be able to handle the calls and the pace a dispatcher has to handle.  911 isn’t just a Call Center.  It’s your community’s first-first responders.  Each dispatcher is invested in the moment with people in crisis on the phone.

 

 

Yet with all the craziness the job brings, there are also many rewards.   They provide direction, help, and a direct link to responders.  They coordinate police, fire and medical response to assist those in their time of need. This is a highly trained and specialized team looking for others like them – people with DEDICATION, INTEGRITY, CREATIVITY, PASSION, COMMUNICATION AND CONCERN.  CRESA is highly accredited and has one of the best training programs in the country.  We provide all the training needed to be successful at this job, and yes, to even save a life!

If this seems like a career path you are interested in pursuing, please contact us and apply at www.cresa911.org/employment.

A Guide: What to Know

Calling 9-1-1 is serious business.  We want you to call 9-1-1 to receive help for emergencies, potential emergencies, or if you are not sure if it’s an emergency.  But what happens when you call for help?  What should you say? What does the person on the other line need to know?  What if you forget something?
Dispatchers are trained to pull and assess information from a caller. Expect them to guide you with questions.  They know what information they need to get first in order to ensure the right type of help arrives in a timely manner, and the best way to get the assistance you need is to answer the questions in the order they ask them.

Here’s a quick guide to help us help You:

  • If you speak another language or dialect tell us right away. At push of a button, we can connect to a translator.  CRESA has translated 9-1-1 calls in more than 170 languages.  Text to 9-1-1 is also available if it is unsafe for you to make a voice call or for individuals with hearing impairments.  Do Not use Emoji’s and be sure to share your location and the nature of your emergency in the first texts you send.  Remember to Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t!

 

  • Let the dispatcher know what is happening. Is there a crime in progress? Is there a fire?  Does someone need medical help? This information lets our dispatchers know what type of help you need.
  • We want to know where the situation is occurring. Knowing your Location is critical in getting the right help to you as quickly as we can.  Provide an exact address if you know it and don’t forget the floor and apartment number if you are in a building.  Unsure of where you are?  A nearby intersection or landmark will help.  
  • When did the incident occur? It is important to know if this is an active situation so our dispatchers can prepare the first responders know what to expect.
  • Let us know who is involved. We want to know if it a family member, someone you know, or a stranger.  It also helps to know if there are multiple people involved and who they are.
  • If weapon was used then let us know. Telling a dispatcher about weapons helps keep the public and first responders safe.
  • Tell us if anyone is injured. If someone is hurt, our dispatchers will ask you a series of questions to determine what type of care is needed.  Our dispatchers are also trained to provide medical instruction until a medic arrives.

It is important to remember the type of response is based on the emergency.  CRESA’s 9-1-1 call center receives more than 1,000 calls per day.  Not every call can or should involve emergency units traveling at high speeds with lights flashing and sirens blaring.  This type of response comes with inherent risk for the public and the first responders, but is rightly reserved for life-threatening emergencies.  Consider using 3-1-1 if your call is not an urgent life and safety call.  As a reminder, the same individuals that answer 9-1-1, also answer 3-1-1, so if you are put on hold, it is because they are currently busy. 

We hope you rarely have to call 9-1-1.  But if you you or someone else is experiencing an emergency, then keep these tips in mind.  Our 9-1-1 dispatchers will help you get the help that you need in a timely manner.

A 911 Ending…

The life of a 9-1-1 dispatcher usually means never knowing the end of the story.

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The Lindborg’s felt it was fitting that it just happened to be Super Hero Day

9-1-1 Dispatchers are trained to take an initial call from someone on their worst day,  gathering critical information from the caller, relaying that information to the appropriate first responders, and then move onto the next call.  Very rarely do dispatchers get to hear the outcome of the call, and in even fewer instances get to meet the people they talk to over the phone.

On April 17, 2016, Jessie Lindborg left the family home for just a couple minutes to grab a gallon of milk.  While she was gone, the Lindborg’s autistic son figured out the safety locks on the house and took off.   When Mrs. Lindborg returned home, she was frantic when she realized their son was gone.  Jessie called 9-1-1 where Dispatcher Kelly calmly gathered information needed.  Dispatcher Kelly stayed on the line with Jessie, helping keep her calm while she tried to locate her son.

At the same time, another call came into CRESA 911 from an individual who had located a young male in the street.  Dispatcher Allison was able to gather information and by piecing it together, realized it was Mrs. Lindborg’s son.  Dispatchers Allison and Kelly worked together in relaying information of the young man’s location so Mrs. Lindborg could safely pick up her son.

It wasn’t until Mrs. Lindborg had located her son and made sure he was safe that Dispatcher Kelly hung up the phone, and moved onto the next 9-1-1 call.  While Dispatcher Kelly was on the line with Mrs. Lindborg she shared information about Safety Net of Clark County formally known as Project Lifesaver.  Safety Net/Project Lifesaver applies tracking technology for individuals with cognitive disorders.  For more information click here or contact the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

 

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Mr and Mrs Lindborg meet Dispatcher Kelly(Pictured L to R, Jessie Lindborg, Dispatcher Kelly, Bob Lindborg)

Today we welcomed Bob and Jessie Lindborg to CRESA 911.  They wanted to thank in person the dispatchers that helped them through one of those worst day calls.  The Lindborg’s believe the dispatchers truly saved their son’s life that day.  The Lindborg’s brought cards and treats for Dispatcher’s Kelly and Allison, as a small token of their gratitude. Because of scheduling Dispatcher Allison was unable to be present during the visit.  Bob also shared that they have since updated the locks on their home to hopefully ensure this doesn’t happen again.

 

We Need More Heroes

If you were like me growing up, at one point in time, when asked what you wanted to be growing up, you probably answered a “Super Hero.”  I think most young boys and girls at some time in their young lives have tied a towel around their necks, and with arms outstretched have run around as if we could take flight and single-handedly capture the bad guys and save the day.

Even in the world of comics, there are Super Hero Crime Fighting Teams working together to catch the bad guy.  From Justice League, Avengers, Watchmen, and even the PowerPuff Girls, teams have worked together to save the day.

Our Crime-Fighting Team Begins With You

Truth be told, even in the real world, it takes a team working together to fight crime and making sure our little corner on this planet is safe.  Most may think that team begins with dispatchers or first responders, but actually that crime fighting team begins with you… when you call 9-1-1!

You become our eyes and ears, to what is happening, and ensuring 9-1-1 Dispatch sends the right people to assist.   As part of this crime fighting team, we need you to use your special skills and keep calm, to be able to answer the questions asked.  Dispatch Staff may seem stern and rude at times, but in fact they are there to guide you through the information they truly need.  In a crisis situation, as humans, we have a tendency to start to ramble.  The Dispatcher is there to keep you to the facts, to get the right help to you as soon as possible.  Please understand they are trained “Super-Hero’s”  doing their part, just as you, to support that crime-fighting team.

We Need More “Super-Heroes”!

Do you think you have what it takes to join our Super Hero Team?  Are you able to react in a “flash” and calmly during an emergency?  Do you have excellent communication skills on a phone and are a “wiz” on computer keyboard?  CRESAimages (3) is looking for you!  We are currently hiring 911 Call Taker-Dispatcher, no experience required since we offer a training academy.

9-1-1 Call-Takers answer and process 9-1-1 calls and perform Emergency Medical Dispatch for callers with medical response needs. CRESA Dispatchers also dispatch police, fire and medical services. Call-Taking and Dispatching work requires extensive computer skills, data entry, critical thinking and independent judgment. Call-Takers and Dispatchers must handle calls from angry, scared, depressed or impaired callers. Candidates must think quickly and make correct decisions in stressful and life-threatening situations. *Please refer to the JOB DESCRIPTION that has all the specifics including the ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS & MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS on our website www.cresa911.org

APPLICATION PROCESS

Step 1: Application on CRESA website (Required) – ongoing

Step 2: Take the ECOMM test (Required) – ongoing.  E-COMM is a video-based job simulation test focusing on candidates’ judgment, decision making, prioritization and logic. Test scores are valid for up to 1 year.  Candidates register for the ECOMM test at https://nationaltestingnetwork.com/publicsafetyjobs/

Where would you like to take the test?

  • April 27th 1pm at Clark College Columbia Tech Center
  • May 11th 1pm at Clark Corporate Education

What Super Hero Are You?

We’ve included a couple fun links for you to think about your inner Crime-Fighter.  Take the Super Hero Quiz we found to see what kind of Super-Hero you would be.  If  you are like me and have thought about creating your own Super-Hero… We found this site for you.  Click Here.  Lastly,we have also included some fun reading about Super Hero Crime-Fighting Teams.

Bonus points: if you read this to the end and took the quiz… Be sure to share with us via Facebook or Twitter what Super Hero you are!!

We Say THANK YOU To Our Own

Here At CRESA we are Very proud of the awesome staff that makes up all of CRESA’s four divisions.  This week, we highlight our largest department, 9-1-1 Operations.  Below are a few words from CRESA Director Anna Pendergrass in regards to this awesome team….   We’ve also created a video highlighting their awesomeness!! 

Greetings,

Please join me in paying tribute to our 9-1-1 Dispatchers here at CRESA as we celebrate National Telecommunicators Week April 10th – 16th.

Our dispatchers work 10, 12 and sometimes 14 hour days and serve 25 police, fire and medical response agencies in Clark County.  Dispatchers received over 405,000 calls in 2015.

Not many people are able to handle the long hours, rollercoaster stress, multi-tasking and emotional toll it takes to keep the citizens and first responders of Clark County safe. However, this is the life of a public safety telecommunicator, better known as the 911 dispatcher.

A 911 dispatcher plays many roles: therapist, doctor, lawyer, teacher, psychic, weatherman or -woman, sounding board, guidance counselor, parent, priest, secretary, politician, peacemaker, repairman, phone directory and negotiator. Each dispatcher on a daily basis deals with angry or frantic citizens, terrified victims, suicidal people and sometimes grouchy officers. These dedicated individuals are expected to gather information from agitated callers (many of whom either can’t remember answers to the questions or just simply can’t understand why they are being asked any questions at all), type everything into a bank of computers, assess priority, dispatch appropriate help, continue gathering information, listen for calling officers, keep officers and field personnel safe and field all sorts of non-emergency calls — all at the same time.

These professionals sit at a bank of computer screens with a headset and a phone for a 10 to 14-hour shifts, speaking with people whose faces they will never see, being taken for granted, criticized or sworn at, rarely receiving accolades or even a thank you and usually only getting the beginning of a story, as there is rarely any closure. Don’t forget that it’s a 24/7 operations, meaning they also work weekends and holidays. Every dispatcher is expected to be the calm or sanity in any storm, have the patience of a saint, answer every question, be an encyclopedia, ignore his or her own stress and emotions, have the speed of “Flash” and above all, be perfect all the time.

I am very PROUD of the men and women who sit behind the mic 24/7/365 and “Answer The Call”!  These individuals truly represent our CRESA Values:

  • Dedication is a commitment to our task and purpose. We are dedicated to the organization, each other, our families, and the community we serve.
  • Integrity is the cornerstone of our profession. We value ethical conduct and public trust. We are people of character and principle that are committed to upholding our position of trust.
  • Creativity is thinking broadly and strategically. We are inventive and innovative yet practical when creating solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Passion is driven by a desire for excellence. We care deeply about the people that need our help. We inspire the best of our colleagues and ourselves.
  • Communication is required to effectively serve. We are part of a community. We consider all to be valued partners in our drive to fulfill our mission.
  • Concern is a desire to support others. We know others may depend on us during times of high stress and naturally give them our support.

 

These public safety telecommunicators, each talented and unique, deserve much more than simply a week in their honor!  Please take a moment to reflect on the great job they do and if you get the opportunity please tell them “THANK YOU”!

 

Anna Pendergrass, Director of 911 & Emergency Mgt

CRESA Celebrates Four Life Saving Awards

Here at CRESA we are very proud of our dedicated and highly professional team.  From time to time we get the opportunity to spotlight a few of those individuals who do an amazing job daily and in these cases, helped save a life.

The Life Saving Award is given to a 9-1-1 Dispatcher who use Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Protocols to give lifesaving instructions to a caller and the patient survives.  In the cases highlighted here,  Dispatchers quickly recognize the need for CPR and instructed the callers on how to start chest compression’s while keeping them calm, reassured and focused until paramedics arrive. 


During last week’s CRESA Board of Directors Meeting, three 9-1-1 dispatchers were awarded the Life Saving Award… 


Sally Dexter:  
Pictured Left to Right: Sally Dexter; CRESA Board Chair,
Don Cheney; CRESA Director, Anna Pendergrass 

Sally answered a 9-1-1 call from a male subject who stated he needed and ambulance for his friend who is down on the ground and blue.  l   After some time in the hospital the patient was released from the hospital and sent home independently.  







Pictured Left to Right: Kira Yager; CRESA Board Chair, 
Don Cheney; CRESA Director, Anna Pendergrass 
Kira Yager:
Kira answered a 9-1-1 call with woman who was very upset trying to report her 16 year old son was unconscious and not breathing.








Jackie Piggot:  (Receiving two awards)

Pictured Left to Right: Jackie Piggot; CRESA Board Chair, 
Don Cheney; CRESA Director, Anna Pendergrass 

1st Award:
Jackie answered a 9-1-1 call  with a male caller who was reporting his 48 year old girlfriend unconscious and not breathing.  .
2nd Award: 
Jackie answered a 9-1-1 call with a female caller who was reporting her boyfriend was unconscious and not breathing normally.  The patient was transported to the hospital and then left the hospital against medical advice, he did have relatively normal neuro functioning upon leaving.


These four awards highlight the importance of early CPR in saving lives in Clark County!!  We continue to encourage everyone to be trained in Hands Only CPR.  Take a minute to watch the Hands-Only Demo  below,  your knowledge could save a life!! 

I Know My Address, However Does Your Child?

This time of year marks a spike in community events, and here at CRESA, we are always happy to share important information in regards to better preparing  for  emergencies  or what you need to know when you have to call 9-1-1.  Over the past couple weeks, CRESA Public Educators have been out in full force, as we share information  during our partners Open House events.

At one of these events I recently worked, I had the opportunity of chatting with a couple hundred  young kids.  As I shared 9-1-1 stickers, temporary firetruck tattoos and coloring pages,  I would ask them the question, “What number do you call in an emergency if you need help?”  Almost all of them knew the answer of “9-1-1.” This usually would be followed by,  “Do you know your address?”  Sometimes I would get a shrug of the shoulders or a nodding of the head, sometimes “yes”, sometimes “no.”  I had several parents urge their kids, asking them, to tell me if they knew.  As they would respond, I would hear telephone numbers rattled off or perhaps a house number, but very few times did I hear a complete address. During our little discussions in the few minutes I had before their attention was distracted by a shiny fire truck or the Law Enforcement K-9’s,  I would share why it was important for them to know their address, and the importance this plays in helping  9-1-1 dispatcher’s know where to send the help!

As the day went on, it got me thinking.  Little things like learning our phone number and address easily slip through the cracks with all the technology we have at our fingertips.  I can tell you from personal experience, there are very few phone numbers I honestly still have memorized. They are all conveniently stored in my smartphone.  To this day, I still glance each time I give out my work cell number.  Its just one of those numbers I take for granted.  Yet if you ask me my childhood phone number or address, I can rattle them, along with my grandparents numbers off with ease. No matter where we keep these important pieces of information, to have them handy, nothing replaces having them stored to memory when you need them.  For me learning needs to be interesting and fun.   Doing a little research, I found some great fun ideas for you to use with your child in helping them learn their address. I hope the following ideas are useful in teaching your child important information that could be invaluable in an emergency.  I know I may practice a couple of these myself.

Step 1

Point out the numbers on the side of your home and the street signs in your neighborhood. Say your address so that your child hears it and sees the street name and numbers together.

Step 2

Cut out a house shape from a piece of paper. Write the address in large print so it’s easy to read. Hang the house picture in your child’s room so he sees it every day and becomes familiar with it.

Step 3

Hand your preschooler a stack of envelopes so he can practice writing his address. Writing down the information may help it stick because he gets the repetition along with the visual of the numbers. If your economy friendly side cringes at using all that paper, laminate an envelope and use a dry erase marker so he can write, erase and repeat.

Step 4

Rhyme the address to make it easier to remember. For example, for the address 321 May St., say, “I have fun at 321; I play all day on a street called May.” The rhyme doesn’t have to make sense as long as it gets your child excited about learning his address.

Step 5

Belt out a tune about your address. Like rhymes, songs make it easier to commit the address to memory. Make up your own tune, or use your child’s favorite song. Don’t worry if you’re off key. Your preschooler won’t notice, but he will have an easier time learning his address.

References

A Tribute to Dispatchers

This tribute was written in 1994 in one of the early years of officially recognizing Public Safety Telecommunicators.  Its sentiments are still relevant today (even if some of the references are dated).
 

By Chief Thomas Wagoner
Loveland (Colorado) Police Department

Someone once asked me if I thought that answering telephones for a living was a profession. I said, “I thought it was a calling.”

And so is dispatching. I have found in my law enforcement career that dispatchers are the unsung heroes of public safety. They miss the excitement of riding in a speeding car with lights flashing and sirens wailing. They can only hear of the bright orange flames leaping from a burning building. They do not get to see the joy on the face of worried parents as they see their child begin breathing on its own, after it has been given CPR.

Dispatchers sit in darkened rooms looking at computer screens and talking to voices from faces they never see. It’s like reading a lot of books, but only half of each one.

Dispatchers connect the anxious conversations of terrified victims, angry informants, suicidal citizens and grouchy officers. They are the calming influence of all of them-the quiet, competent voices in the night that provide the pillars for the bridges of sanity and safety. They are expected to gather information from highly agitated people who can’t remember where they live, what their name is, or what they just saw. And then, they are to calmly provide all that information to the officers, firefighters, or paramedics without error the first time and every time.

Dispatchers are expected to be able to do five things at once-and do them well. While questioning a frantic caller, they must type the information into a computer, tip off another dispatcher, put another caller on hold, and listen to an officer run a plate for a parking problem. To miss the plate numbers is to raise the officer’s ire; to miss the caller’s information may be to endanger the same officer’s life. But, the officer will never understand that.

Dispatchers have two constant companions, other dispatchers and stress. They depend on one, and try to ignore the other. they are chastened by upset callers, taken for granted by the public, and criticized by the officers. The rewards they get are inexpensive and infrequent, except for the satisfaction they feel at the end of a shift, having done what they were expected to do.

Dispatchers come in all shapes and sizes, all races, both sexes, and all ages. They are blondes, and brunettes, and redheads. They are quiet and outgoing, single, or married, plain, beautiful, or handsome. No two are alike, yet they are all the same.

They are people who were selected in a difficult hiring process to do an impossible job. They are as different as snowflakes, but they have one thing in common. They care about people and they enjoy being the lifeline of society-that steady voice in a storm-the one who knows how to handle every emergency and does it with style and grace; and, uncompromised competence.

Dispatchers play many roles: therapist, doctor, lawyer, teacher, weatherman, guidance counselor, psychologist, priest, secretary, supervisor, politician, and reporter. And few people must jump through the emotional hoops on the trip through the joy of one caller’s birthday party, to the fear of another caller’s burglary in progress, to the anger of a neighbor blocked in their drive, and back to the birthday caller all in a two-minute time frame. The emotional rollercoaster rolls to a stop after an 8 or 10 hour shift, and they are expected to walk down to their car with steady feet and no queasiness in their stomach-because they are dispatchers. If they hold it in, they are too closed. If they talk about it, they are a whiner. If it bothers them, it adds more stress. If it doesn’t, they question themselves, wondering why.

Dispatchers are expected to have:

  • the compassion of Mother Theresa
  • the wisdom of Solomon
  • the interviewing skills of Oprah Winfrey
  • the gentleness of Florence Nightingale
  • the patience of Job
  • the voice of Barbara Streisand
  • the knowledge of Einstein
  • the answers of Ann Landers
  • the humor of David Letterman
  • the investigative skills of Sgt. Joe Friday
  • the looks of Melanie Griffith or Don Johnson
  • the faith of Billy Graham
  • the energy of Charo
  • and the endurance of the Energizer Bunny

Is it any wonder that many drop out during training? It is a unique and talented person who can do this job and do it well. And, it is fitting and proper that we take a few minutes or hours this week to honor you for the job that each of you do. That recognition is overdue and it is insufficient. But, it is sincere.

I have tried to do your job, and I have failed. It takes a special person with unique skills. I admire you and I thank you for the thankless job you do. You are heroes, and I am proud to work with you.

It’s National Telecommunicator Week at CRESA

Emergency call takers and dispatchers handle calls from people during some of the worst moments of their lives and are often the unsung heroes of public safety. 
In an effort to recognize their efforts, a special week was created for them in the early 1990’s. This year April 8-14th marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.
Your telecommunicator, which is your 911 call takers and dispatchers, are actually the first responders to an emergency and you rarely hear about these people. So Congress, at the request of two major organizations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), decided it was time to recognize them. 
At CRESA, we try and say thank you from the Management and, of course, get some publicity for them because they are our community’s unsung heroes. The only time you ever really hear about them is when somebody makes a mistake not when they save a life, deliver a baby and get the right equipment to the right scene despite all the red tape and difficulties that emergency operations always seem to run into. It’s high stress and you could say a thankless job. 
This job requires a unique individual. It’s not just answering phones. It’s dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives. Nobody calls CRESA when it’s a good day.  
We have extensive pre-employment testing. We may test 150 people at a time and end up with three or four applicants that are suitable. Telecommunicators go through 18-20 months of training before they’re capable of being released to take calls and dispatch police, fire and EMS. 
Employees are trained as call takers first and then move on to dispatching police, fire and medical responders.  Telecommunicators at CRESA’s 9-1-1 Center handle an average of over 31,000 telephone calls per month.
They handle calls from people during some of the worst moments of their lives and are often the unsung heroes of public safety. They are emergency call takers and dispatchers. And in an effort to recognize their efforts, a special week was created for them in the early 1990’s. This year April 10 through April 16 marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The 911 Call Center, located at 911 Hodges Street in Lake Charles, is inviting the public to an Open House during this special week, on April 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., so that the public may see what the call takers do and thank them for their hard work.
“Your telecommunicator, which is your 911 call taker, your desk personnel at the police or sheriff’s office, are actually the first responders to an emergency and you never hear about these people. So Congress, at the request of two major organizations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), decided it was time to recognize these people. What we do around here is we try and say thank you from the staff and, of course, get some publicity for them because they’re the unsung heroes. The only time you ever really hear about them is when somebody makes a mistake not when they save a life, deliver a baby and get the right equipment to the right scene despite all the red tape and all the difficulties that emergency operations always seem to run into. It’s high stress and, you could say thankless, job. You work just as hard as that patrolman or fireman or deputy sheriff. You work the same hours and same holidays away from your family, generally for a lower level of pay. Hard-working, dedicated people are what it takes to do the job,” said Robert V. Martin, Executive Director of the 911 Call Center in Lake Charles.
According to Martin, you have to have a special type of personality to deal with the public in their worst moments.
“This is the type of job that requires a unique individual. It’s not just answering phones. It’s dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives. Nobody calls up here when it’s a good day. They only call when everything is falling apart around them,” said Martin.
“We have extensive pre-employment testing. We may test 150 people at a time and we’ll end up with three or four applicants that are suitable out of that. We go through right at a year of training before we feel that they’re capable of handling public requests. So it’s a detailed process that runs almost $110,000 per person the first year in training expenses,” he added. “We train them as emergency medical dispatchers. The ones that make it more than three years here prove themselves capable of handling emotions and demands of people during crisis.”
Call takers at the local 911 Call Center handle an average of 15,000 calls per month.They handle calls from people during some of the worst moments of their lives and are often the unsung heroes of public safety. They are emergency call takers and dispatchers. And in an effort to recognize their efforts, a special week was created for them in the early 1990’s. This year April 10 through April 16 marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The 911 Call Center, located at 911 Hodges Street in Lake Charles, is inviting the public to an Open House during this special week, on April 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., so that the public may see what the call takers do and thank them for their hard work.
“Your telecommunicator, which is your 911 call taker, your desk personnel at the police or sheriff’s office, are actually the first responders to an emergency and you never hear about these people. So Congress, at the request of two major organizations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), decided it was time to recognize these people. What we do around here is we try and say thank you from the staff and, of course, get some publicity for them because they’re the unsung heroes. The only time you ever really hear about them is when somebody makes a mistake not when they save a life, deliver a baby and get the right equipment to the right scene despite all the red tape and all the difficulties that emergency operations always seem to run into. It’s high stress and, you could say thankless, job. You work just as hard as that patrolman or fireman or deputy sheriff. You work the same hours and same holidays away from your family, generally for a lower level of pay. Hard-working, dedicated people are what it takes to do the job,” said Robert V. Martin, Executive Director of the 911 Call Center in Lake Charles.
According to Martin, you have to have a special type of personality to deal with the public in their worst moments.
“This is the type of job that requires a unique individual. It’s not just answering phones. It’s dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives. Nobody calls up here when it’s a good day. They only call when everything is falling apart around them,” said Martin.
“We have extensive pre-employment testing. We may test 150 people at a time and we’ll end up with three or four applicants that are suitable out of that. We go through right at a year of training before we feel that they’re capable of handling public requests. So it’s a detailed process that runs almost $110,000 per person the first year in training expenses,” he added. “We train them as emergency medical dispatchers. The ones that make it more than three years here prove themselves capable of handling emotions and demands of people during crisis.”
Call takers at the local 911 Call Center handle an average of 15,000 calls per month.They handle calls from people during some of the worst moments of their lives and are often the unsung heroes of public safety. They are emergency call takers and dispatchers. And in an effort to recognize their efforts, a special week was created for them in the early 1990’s. This year April 10 through April 16 marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The 911 Call Center, located at 911 Hodges Street in Lake Charles, is inviting the public to an Open House during this special week, on April 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., so that the public may see what the call takers do and thank them for their hard work.
“Your telecommunicator, which is your 911 call taker, your desk personnel at the police or sheriff’s office, are actually the first responders to an emergency and you never hear about these people. So Congress, at the request of two major organizations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), decided it was time to recognize these people. What we do around here is we try and say thank you from the staff and, of course, get some publicity for them because they’re the unsung heroes. The only time you ever really hear about them is when somebody makes a mistake not when they save a life, deliver a baby and get the right equipment to the right scene despite all the red tape and all the difficulties that emergency operations always seem to run into. It’s high stress and, you could say thankless, job. You work just as hard as that patrolman or fireman or deputy sheriff. You work the same hours and same holidays away from your family, generally for a lower level of pay. Hard-working, dedicated people are what it takes to do the job,” said Robert V. Martin, Executive Director of the 911 Call Center in Lake Charles.
According to Martin, you have to have a special type of personality to deal with the public in their worst moments.
“This is the type of job that requires a unique individual. It’s not just answering phones. It’s dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives. Nobody calls up here when it’s a good day. They only call when everything is falling apart around them,” said Martin.
“We have extensive pre-employment testing. We may test 150 people at a time and we’ll end up with three or four applicants that are suitable out of that. We go through right at a year of training before we feel that they’re capable of handling public requests. So it’s a detailed process that runs almost $110,000 per person the first year in training expenses,” he added. “We train them as emergency medical dispatchers. The ones that make it more than three years here prove themselves capable of handling emotions and demands of people during crisis.”
Call takers at the local 911 Call Center handle an average of 15,000 calls per month.They handle calls from people during some of the worst moments of their lives and are often the unsung heroes of public safety. They are emergency call takers and dispatchers. And in an effort to recognize their efforts, a special week was created for them in the early 1990’s. This year April 10 through April 16 marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The 911 Call Center, located at 911 Hodges Street in Lake Charles, is inviting the public to an Open House during this special week, on April 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., so that the public may see what the call takers do and thank them for their hard work.
“Your telecommunicator, which is your 911 call taker, your desk personnel at the police or sheriff’s office, are actually the first responders to an emergency and you never hear about these people. So Congress, at the request of two major organizations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), decided it was time to recognize these people. What we do around here is we try and say thank you from the staff and, of course, get some publicity for them because they’re the unsung heroes. The only time you ever really hear about them is when somebody makes a mistake not when they save a life, deliver a baby and get the right equipment to the right scene despite all the red tape and all the difficulties that emergency operations always seem to run into. It’s high stress and, you could say thankless, job. You work just as hard as that patrolman or fireman or deputy sheriff. You work the same hours and same holidays away from your family, generally for a lower level of pay. Hard-working, dedicated people are what it takes to do the job,” said Robert V. Martin, Executive Director of the 911 Call Center in Lake Charles.
According to Martin, you have to have a special type of personality to deal with the public in their worst moments.
“This is the type of job that requires a unique individual. It’s not just answering phones. It’s dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives. Nobody calls up here when it’s a good day. They only call when everything is falling apart around them,” said Martin.
“We have extensive pre-employment testing. We may test 150 people at a time and we’ll end up with three or four applicants that are suitable out of that. We go through right at a year of training before we feel that they’re capable of handling public requests. So it’s a detailed process that runs almost $110,000 per person the first year in training expenses,” he added. “We train them as emergency medical dispatchers. The ones that make it more than three years here prove themselves capable of handling emotions and demands of people during crisis.”
Call takers at the local 911 Call Center handle an average of 15,000 calls per month.They handle calls from people during some of the worst moments of their lives and are often the unsung heroes of public safety. They are emergency call takers and dispatchers. And in an effort to recognize their efforts, a special week was created for them in the early 1990’s. This year April 10 through April 16 marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The 911 Call Center, located at 911 Hodges Street in Lake Charles, is inviting the public to an Open House during this special week, on April 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., so that the public may see what the call takers do and thank them for their hard work.
“Your telecommunicator, which is your 911 call taker, your desk personnel at the police or sheriff’s office, are actually the first responders to an emergency and you never hear about these people. So Congress, at the request of two major organizations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), decided it was time to recognize these people. What we do around here is we try and say thank you from the staff and, of course, get some publicity for them because they’re the unsung heroes. The only time you ever really hear about them is when somebody makes a mistake not when they save a life, deliver a baby and get the right equipment to the right scene despite all the red tape and all the difficulties that emergency operations always seem to run into. It’s high stress and, you could say thankless, job. You work just as hard as that patrolman or fireman or deputy sheriff. You work the same hours and same holidays away from your family, generally for a lower level of pay. Hard-working, dedicated people are what it takes to do the job,” said Robert V. Martin, Executive Director of the 911 Call Center in Lake Charles.
According to Martin, you have to have a special type of personality to deal with the public in their worst moments.
“This is the type of job that requires a unique individual. It’s not just answering phones. It’s dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives. Nobody calls up here when it’s a good day. They only call when everything is falling apart around them,” said Martin.
“We have extensive pre-employment testing. We may test 150 people at a time and we’ll end up with three or four applicants that are suitable out of that. We go through right at a year of training before we feel that they’re capable of handling public requests. So it’s a detailed process that runs almost $110,000 per person the first year in training expenses,” he added. “We train them as emergency medical dispatchers. The ones that make it more than three years here prove themselves capable of handling emotions and demands of people during crisis.”
Call takers at the local 911 Call Center handle an average of 15,000 calls per month. They handle calls from people during some of the worst moments of their lives and are often the unsung heroes of public safety. They are emergency call takers and dispatchers. And in an effort to recognize their efforts, a special week was created for them in the early 1990’s. This year April 10 through April 16 marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The 911 Call Center, located at 911 Hodges Street in Lake Charles, is inviting the public to an Open House during this special week, on April 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., so that the public may see what the call takers do and thank them for their hard work.
“Your telecommunicator, which is your 911 call taker, your desk personnel at the police or sheriff’s office, are actually the first responders to an emergency and you never hear about these people. So Congress, at the request of two major organizations, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), decided it was time to recognize these people. What we do around here is we try and say thank you from the staff and, of course, get some publicity for them because they’re the unsung heroes. The only time you ever really hear about them is when somebody makes a mistake not when they save a life, deliver a baby and get the right equipment to the right scene despite all the red tape and all the difficulties that emergency operations always seem to run into. It’s high stress and, you could say thankless, job. You work just as hard as that patrolman or fireman or deputy sheriff. You work the same hours and same holidays away from your family, generally for a lower level of pay. Hard-working, dedicated people are what it takes to do the job,” said Robert V. Martin, Executive Director of the 911 Call Center in Lake Charles.
According to Martin, you have to have a special type of personality to deal with the public in their worst moments.
“This is the type of job that requires a unique individual. It’s not just answering phones. It’s dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives. Nobody calls up here when it’s a good day. They only call when everything is falling apart around them,” said Martin.
“We have extensive pre-employment testing. We may test 150 people at a time and we’ll end up with three or four applicants that are suitable out of that. We go through right at a year of training before we feel that they’re capable of handling public requests. So it’s a detailed process that runs almost $110,000 per person the first year in training expenses,” he added. “We train them as emergency medical dispatchers. The ones that make it more than three years here prove themselves capable of handling emotions and demands of people during crisis.”
Call takers at the local 911 Call Center handle an average of 15,000 calls per month.

This week, at CRESA, we’re planning a number of fun things!  On Tuesday, at 9:45 a.m., the Board of County Commissioners will be reading a proclamation to honor this week.  These meetings are open to the public if you’d like to show your support in person to our agency.  

But even more important than the official recognition is the fact that each of us have a special opportunity to just say “thanks” to our local telecommunicators.  You can do so super easily here in Clark County, by choosing the following ways to share your thanks by:
  • Commenting here on our blog,
  • If you receive the blog via email, just reply back to the email, 
  • Drop a comment on our Facebook Page,
  • Tweet to us by including @CRESA in your 140 characters, 
  • Email us at cresa@clark.wa.gov, or 
  • Send a card to 710 W 13th ST, Vancouver, WA 98660. 
We’re proud of all of our employees here at CRESA and hope that you are, too! 

CRESA Board appoints Anna Pendergrass Agency’s new director


Vancouver, WA – The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency executive board today named Anna Pendergrass, a 35-year veteran of the emergency services field, director of the regional public safety agency.

Pendergrass has served as the agency’s interim director since the June retirement of Tom Griffith, who held the position for 11 years. Her appointment is effective today; a final employment agreement is pending.

CRESA provides 9-1-1 dispatch, emergency and disaster management and technology services that maintain emergency radio and computer systems. It also oversees the ambulance contract for Emergency Medical Service District 2. Its service area is all seven Clark County cities and the county’s unincorporated area.

The agency also hosts the Region IV Homeland Security Office, which coordinates Homeland Security efforts in Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.

Pendergrass’ lengthy experience, ideas and understanding of the agency, its first responder partners and the community’s needs made her appointment the logical and fiscally prudent choice, said Don Chaney, chair of the agency’s executive board.

Her proposals for enhancing public services and ability to immediately step into the position will provide the agency and community with continued stable, high-quality and reliable emergency services, he said.

“Anna’s experience, intelligence and bearing qualify her for this appointment,” Chaney said. “She projects and acknowledges a passion for service to the Clark County community. She has our full confidence.”

As director, Pendergrass will be responsible for all aspects of emergency management and Homeland Security, technical services and administrative duties.

Among her duties, she will continue to seek grants and other financing for agency services and cost savings and regional cooperation in matters such as upgrading the agency’s radio and telephone systems.

Board member Ben Peeler, chief of North Country Emergency Medical Service, said Pendergrass taking the helm of CRESA will be “a seamless transition.”

“From a responder’s perspective, she has the historical knowledge, knows all employees and has great rapport with the partners, or responding agencies,” he said. “She’ll do a great job.”

CRESA recruited and hired Pendergrass as operations manager in 2004. In that position, she oversaw the day-to-day functions of the emergency dispatch center, where 9-1-1 calls are received and from where operators send police, fire and medical experts in response.

She also oversaw employee training and continuing education programs, as well as performance quality assurance and accreditation for the agency and dispatchers.

Earlier, Pendergrass – a certified Emergency Medical Technician – served as supervisor of American Medical Response’s regional dispatch center in Portland. She also worked as AMR’s communications director, securing National Academy of Emergency Dispatchers certification for the center.

Pendergrass began her career in Grant’s Pass, Ore. as a dispatcher for Josephine County. During her 23 years with the county, she also served as the sheriff’s administrative assistant, managing employees and a $12 million budget. She later was administrator for the records and dispatch divisions as well as interim 9-1-1 director.

###

Contact: Don Chaney, chair, CRESA executive board, (360) 834-3242

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