CRESA Always Here, Always Ready

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Celebrating the 4th of July… Safely and Neighborly

The Fourth of July is a big deal here in Clark County and across the country as many love to celebrate Independence Day with lavish fireworks displays. As fireworks go on sale this week in Clark County, people often will call 911 to help resolve issues and ask questions.

As a reminder, please do NOT call 911 to report fireworks violations unless there is a fire, an injury or someone is recklessly using fireworks putting lives in danger.  We wanted to share answers to some of the most frequent questions we get here at CRESA 911:

When are they legal?

  • June 29th – July 4th, 9 am – midnight -Yacolt
  • July 1st -July 3rd, 9 am – 11 pm – Woodland 
  • July 3rd 9 am – 10 pm – La Center
  • July 3rd 9 am – 11 pm  – Battle Ground
  • July 4th 9 am – midnight- Unincorporated Clark County, Amboy, Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Washougal, Woodland, and Yacolt
  • July 5th 9 am – 11 pm – Yacolt 
  • Fireworks are Illegal at all times within the Vancouver city limits.  If you’re unsure if you’re in the City of Vancouver, check the website at
  • Clark County provides a handy online chart and interactive map that allows anyone with an online device to quickly determine the rules for fireworks based on their address.

What about the big noisy ones?  Aren’t they illegal?

Nope. Even the fireworks that rattle your windows and set off your car alarm are legal.  Unless you are within the City of Vancouver, where all fireworks are illegal.

What about the ones that shoot clear up into the sky? They must be illegal.

Nope – most of those are legal too. Exception:   If you are within the City of Vancouver, all fireworks are illegal. 

Here is a guide for identifying illegal fireworks and explosives.

Here’s a legal overview of state fireworks regulations..

What if someone is shooting fireworks “dangerously”?

It depends on what you mean by dangerously.  Is life or property at risk?  If yes, call 911.

My pets and livestock are being traumatized by the noise!

Fireworks can be traumatic for animals.  If your pet has issues with loud noises please contact your vet for solutions to keep them calm.

Here’s a good article about helping your pet cope with fireworks.

Do Not Call 911 –

** The same dispatchers that answer 911 answer 311… Please help keep these lines open for immediate emergencies.

  • Because your neighbors are setting off fireworks
  • Because it is 10:30 PM and you need to get up early tomorrow
  • The noise is upsetting your animals
  • If someone is using fireworks illegally within the  Vancouver city limits please call 311 or 360-693-3111.   You will be asked to provide an address or cross streets where fireworks are actively being used.

So when can I call 911?

  • If there is a fire
  • If there is an injury
  • If someone is recklessly using fireworks and putting lives in danger
  • If people are being reckless and putting others in danger

** The same dispatchers that answer 911 answer 311… Please help keep these lines open for immediate emergencies.

As a reminder, Fort Vancouver’s Firework Spectacular as well as Clark County 4th of July have both been canceled this year.   

How Should I Dispose of Fireworks?

Clark Public Health has provided information on how and where you can dispose  of both used and unused fireworks in Clark County.

The Faces of CRESA

Like many jobs in Public Safety, the role of a 9-1-1 Dispatcher brings with it great stress.  This career path isn’t for everyone, and there is much more involved to be successful than just managing a switchboard.  Our 9-1-1 Dispatchers and Call-Takers need to stay proefssional and take the lead to help get critical details from callers, all while helping send the correct help to those in need.  So you may ask, how do dispatcher’s spend their time away from the headset to deal with the stress from their work.  Having healthy methods of handling stress become essential when you deal with people on their worst day everyday.

A Mosaic using the “Faces of CRESA” staff to recreate the CRESA Building

The many faces that make up CRESA  enjoy a wide array of activities to help combat the impacts their work has on them.  CRESA staff enjoy hiking, running, spending time with family, friends, pets, playing sports, cooking, baking, and canning.  Some attend church, practice yoga, or binge on Netflix/Amazon Prime series.

We are proud of our dedicated staff and the leaders they are outside the walls of CRESA.   Your “first” First-Responders are  dedicated to the communities they live in outside of their work hours.  Here at CRESA, we have individuals who volunteer countless hours, from coaching little league, and soccer,  to leading 4-H and Boy/Girl Scout troops. Individuals also volunteer and fundraise for various school activites.

We have Community Education Zumba Instructors.  We have individuals that deliver meals with Meals on Wheels and help with Stone Soup.   At CRESA, we have those who take safety serious, even outside of work and are part of SafeKids Clark County along with participation as Child Passenger Safety Technicians.  We have individuals who are active in their churches and help with world missions.

CRESA has folks that are active to find a cure to end Alzheimers, and Cancer.  Individuals  are active supporting the Humane Society.  They help to stomp out hunger and assist with shelter for homeless individuals. We even have folks that crochet blankets and baby hats to give to people going through hard times and to Legacy Health as part of their Shaken Baby Syndrome Campaign.

At CRESA, we  have a talented, compassionate staff that we are not only proud of for the work they do while at CRESA, but also for their dedication to the communities they live in.  The faces of CRESA run deep within the communities we serve to help make them just a little bit better!

CRESA Cares… Behind the Headset, and in Our Community!

Cell Phones and 9-1-1, Do They Tell Us Where You Are??

There are a couple of common misunderstandings about how much information cell phones provide 9-1-1 when they are used: 
When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, there is no guarantee that your call will go to the intended 9-1-1 call center, especially along the Columbia River corridor. 

Cell phone calls are sent through a cell phone tower – usually one that is in close proximity to your location.  The 9-1-1 center your call is routed to is based on the location of that cell phone tower.

If that cell phone tower is busy, your call may be routed through other cell towers.  In Clark County if you call from near or around the Columbia River, you call may be routed to Multnomah or Columbia counties. 
A 9-1-1 call taker will generally always ask you for your location to confirm where you are so that we know how to get you the best and quickest help.  Since many addresses involve streets that can also exist in nearby counties, ALWAYS give your city in addition to your street address.
Even if your cell phone has geo-location services enabled, 9-1-1 dispatchers do not always receive exact address information from cell phone callers.
Location information received by a 9-1-1 center from a cell phone can range in accuracy so do not assume the call taker can find you through your cell phone’s GPS.  Generally, the 9-1-1 calls are routed correctly, however cell phone calls are transferred to other 9-1-1 centers every day.

Two basic reminders….
  • Know your location when you call 9-1-1
  • If you call from a cell phone, give your street address AND your city.
CRESA also has “Know Your Location” posters that can be requested by agencies who wish to more prominently display location-based information for callers to 9-1-1.

These signs have already been placed throughout the Westfield Shopping Town to provide callers with specific information about the locations of particular stores. 

All school districts have received these posters and we encourage businesses, assisted living facilities and other larger residential locations to post their address visibly so that it can be seen by people who may need to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.   

Accidental Calls… Don’t Hang Up!!

Ever get a call from a loved one or good friend, and when you answer there is no one on the other end?  You can hear them giggling or chatting away… but its not to you!  I’ve heard friends singing at full volume… out of tune… to the radio unaware that I can hear them also.  You too then have been a victim of a “Pocket Dial.”
This recent phenomena, which may cause a little embarrassment to the caller and a little frustration or entertainment to the call receiver, has also become a problem when that number dialed is 9-1-1.I am sure like me, you have seen people store cell phones on their bodies everywhere.  Anywhere from pockets, and socks to even bras.  Yes people have become resourceful in how they keep this modern day life line with them at all times.  
Or how many of you have given your old phone to your child to play with?  Did you know, that as long as that old phone has a battery charge, it can still call 9-1-1?  If you do decide to let your child have your old phone, take out the battery.
These accidental calls now make up about Twenty Percent of all calls to CRESA 911.  That may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in that by state law CRESA 911 needs to call you back, to verify there actually is not an emergency it starts to really add up!!

What Can You do to be Part of the Solution?

  • Use your cellphone’s key lock to help prevent accidental calls
  • Protect your cellphone by locking and storing it carefully
  • Don’t allow children to play with your phones
  • Programming 9-1-1 into your causes accidental calls.  Instead, teach children how to dial 9-1-1.

What Can You do if You Accidentally call 9-1-1?

Stay on the line, and tell dispatchers that it was an accident. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have.  Staying on the line helps ensure that you are OK.  It also helps save time by not having to call you back or the sending of a law enforcement officer to verify you are alright.  
Recording: Cathy Field – Mason County, Roxanne Castleman – Pierce County 
 Radio Station: KGHP – 89.9 FM Gig Harbor, Washington 

Thank You from Our Director

Here At CRESA we are Very proud of the awesome staff that makes up all of CRESA’s three divisions.  This week has allowed us to 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 there awesomeness!! 


Please join me in paying tribute to our 9-1-1 Dispatchers as we celebrate National Telecommunicators Week this week.

Our dispatchers are the true “First, first responders” and the “Voice of 9-1-1”. They are the first and strongest link in the chain of survival and because of this, many lives are saved. They quietly go about their duties, often-times under trying and stressful conditions, while remaining calm and in control. They work together as a well-oiled team, coordinating resources and responses, ensuring that assistance is rendered quickly and accurately.

They are the ones who give the highest priority to making sure that their “officers” on the street make it home safely each night, whether it be law enforcement, fire or EMS. As the dispatching profession has grown with the advancement of technology and the job has become more and more difficult, our dedicated professionals have risen to the challenge. As the economy has taken a down-turn and extraneous duties have been transferred to our dispatchers, they have done their best to accommodate those extra tasks and handle them with professionalism and attention to duty.

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.
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

Here You Are To Help Save The Day!!

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’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!!

What To Expect… When You Dial 9-1-1

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.
  • 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. 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.
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.

Help Us Celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators.  It was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (CA) Sheriff’s Office in 1981 after the Sheriff overlooked telling Dispatch that he was taking the administrative support team to lunch.  By the early 1990’s the national APCO organization convinced congress for a formal proclamation that was signed by President Bush in 1992.  To read more about how Patricia got the movement started you can click here.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week helps recognize the more than 500,000 telecommunications specialists nation-wide for an amazing job done in providing excellent public safety.

During the coming week, we will focus on several topics near and dear to our local dispatch staff and what they want you to know to help CRESA help You!  We will of course also highlight our awesome staff and the amazing job they do 24/7.

A Tribute To Dispatchers
      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
Exert from “A Tribute To Dispatchers” by Chief Thomas Wagner, Loveland Police Dept, 1994

To read the entire Tribute, click here.  

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!! 

Want to Be a 9-1-1 Dispatcher?

CRESA is seeking applicants interested in becoming 9-1-1 Dispatchers. Review the job application packet and apply by Monday, November 28th at 5:00 PM.

9-1-1 Dispatchers answer and process 9-1-1 calls and dispatch police, fire and medical services. Dispatchers must handle calls from angry, scared, depressed or impaired callers. Dispatchers must think quickly and make correct decisions in stressful and life-threatening situations.

This recruitment will create ELIGIBLE LIST of qualified candidates to fill vacant positions. Once hired, Dispatchers-in-Training go through extensive on-the-job training (approximately 20 months) to learn all aspects of 9-1-1 call-taking and dispatching.

This work requires very strong computer skills, data entry, attention-to-detail, and problem solving / critical thinking. Please see the job announcement and application packet for full job duties, essential job functions, minimum qualifications and recruitment process. Application Deadline: Monday, November 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM. Salary Range: $19.66 – $30.47 per hour.

CRESA is an Equal Opportunity Employer