CRESA Always Here, Always Ready

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How Are We Doing?

A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) will arrive next week to review Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency’s (CRESA’s) policy and procedures, management and support services.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments by calling 360-992-6274 on Tuesday July, 18, 2017 between the hours of 1:30pm and 3:00pm.  Telephone comments are limited to 10 minutes and must address the Agency’s ability to comply with CALEA standards.

If you wish to submit written comment about CRESA’s ability to comply with the standards of accreditation, please send them to :  Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite #320, Gainsville, Virginia 20155.

 

More about this assessment can be found in our full release.  CALEA Onsite Visit.

Fireworks.. Being a Good Neighbor

The Fourth of July is a big deal here in Clark County and many love to celebrate Independence Day with lavish fireworks displays. Unfortunately,  the careless and perhaps unwelcome use of fireworks can lead to problems.  Quite often people will call 911 for help in resolving these problems.

Here are frequently asked questions about fireworks we get at our 911 center and some guidelines for when its best to call 911:

When are they legal??

  • July 3rd: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. North of 219th St in Unincorporated Clark County, Amboy, Battle Ground,  Ridgefield, and Yacolt.  (10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in La Center)
  • July 4th: 9 a.m. until midnight everywhere except Vancouver and La Center. In La Center, it’s 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • July 5th: they are legal in Battle Ground from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.,  Ridgefield from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Yacolt 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Fireworks are Illegal at all times within the City of Vancouver City Limits.

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.

 

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

Nope – most of those are legal too

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.

So when can I call 911?
  • If fireworks are still going off after midnight (11 p.m. in La Center)
  • 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

Do Not Call 911 –

  • 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 City of Vancouver limits please call 311 or 360-693-3111 where you will be asked to provide in progress reporting, location information.

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

As a reminder, fireworks at the Fort of Vancouver are FREE this year. 

Got Questions about Fireworks… Here’s What Ya Need To Know

  • If you use fireworks, use them responsibly.
  • Comply with local laws for when and where they can used.
  • Use them safely outdoors, always with adult supervision.
  • Clean up fireworks residue when you are done.

The 4th of July is just around the corner, and already we are seeing signs of where and when Fireworks will go on sale in Clark County.  Knowing if fireworks are legal where you live, can be a confusing thing if you live in the greater Vancouver area in Clark County.  If you are unsure if you live within the city limits of Vancouver, enter your address here.

Legal or Not Legal:

Fireworks are illegal within the city limits of Vancouver.  This is a complete ban that includes all types of fireworks.  Civil fines start at $500 for this violation.

Professional fireworks displays that have been permitted by the City remain legal. Once again this 4th of July, the Fort Vancouver National Trust will host the Independence Day Celebration at Fort Vancouver. This is among the largest fireworks shows in the nation. It is free of charge this year, and includes live music before the fireworks.

Note**   WSDOT reports the following closures to I-5 ramps on July 4th:

Tuesday, July 4: The northbound I-5 off-ramp to Mill Plain Boulevard will close from 6 p.m. until midnight.

Tuesday, July 4: The east and westbound SR 14 off-ramps from Southeast Columbia Way will close from 9 p.m. until the end of the fireworks display.

 

Lastly, in addition to the traffic impacts, we also send a reminder to drivers that they are prohibited from parking on the shoulder of I-5 or any other state highways, to watch fireworks displays.

Outside the City of Vancouver City Limits:

If you live outside the city limits, other regulations apply.  The chart below from  Clark County Community Development is a great resource of where and when fireworks are legal.

Clark County  Fireworks Usage

  • Fireworks are not legal in any Clark County Parks.
  • All school grounds, building rooftops, parking lots, playfields and athletic fields are off limits for the lighting/use of fireworks.

Reporting:

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA911) requests people should call 911 if there is an IMMEDIATE threat to life or property.

In regard to fireworks, call 311 or 360-693-3111 where you will be asked to provide in progress reporting, location information, and time frame.  Please do not inundate our system with calls regarding noise and issues that are not related to emergent issues…. call 311 to report fireworks violations and 911 to report fireworks injuries and fires.

 

Cleanup:

Any use of fireworks is not complete until you have also cleaned up any debris.  Fireworks residue contains pollutants that can be washed into storm sewers and local waterways, where they can harm fish and other aquatic life.

Moreover, failing to clean up fireworks residue is a form of littering, a violation of local ordinances. Clark County Public Works does NOT provide extra street sweeping after Fourth of July revelry.

 

Interesting facts from the National Fire Protection Agency

  • Sparklers accounted for 28% of fireworks related injuries from June 20 to July 20, 2014
  • In 2014, 79% of fireworks injuries fell into the categories of sparklers, firecrackers, reloadable shells and novelty fireworks.
  • Approximately 15,600 reported fires were caused by fireworks in 2013

 

 

  • If you use fireworks, use them responsibly.
  • Comply with local laws for when and where they can used.
  • Use them safely outdoors, always with adult supervision.
  • Clean up fireworks residue when you are done.

Early Summer Scorcher – Weekend weather for June 24 – 25

When Hot Temperatures are expected:  A few tips on keeping Family, Friends, and pets safe in the PNW. 

  • Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible unless you’re sure your body has a high tolerance for heat.
  • Drink plenty of fluids but avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar.
  • Never leave any person or pet in a parked vehicle.
  • Check frequently on people who are elderly, ill or may need help. If you need help, arrange to have family, friends or neighbors check in with you at least twice a day throughout warm weather periods.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of water.

If you go outside

  • Plan strenuous outdoor activities for early or late in the day when temperatures are cooler; then gradually build up tolerance for warmer conditions.
  • Take frequent breaks when working outdoors.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sun block and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes when outdoors.
  • At first signs of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps), move to a cooler location, rest for a few minutes and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention immediately if you do not feel better.
  • Avoid sunburn: Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

But even on hot days, many rivers and lakes in Southwest Washington remain cold.

  • Cold water − especially when high or swift − can immobilize even the strongest swimmer in minutes.
  • Know the water: Washington waters are cold enough to cause hypothermia even on the hottest summer day. Hypothermia can weaken even strong swimmers.
  • Know your limits: drowning often occurs when a swimmer tires.
  • Wear a life jacket when swimming anywhere without lifeguards or whenever you boat, jet ski, go tubing or do other water sports.
  • Ensure children wear lifejackets. Inflatable toys and mattresses will not keep children safe. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 18 feet or smaller.
  • Never leave children unsupervised in or near water, even for a minute. Drowning can happen swiftly and silently. Supervision requires complete attention, even if other adults are present.
  • Always avoid alcohol when swimming or boating.

Looking for Places to Stay Cool?

Check out:

  • local malls
  • restaurants
  • theaters
  • shops
  • libraries
  • community recreation centers.

In Vancouver:

  • Marshall/Luepke Community Center, 1009 McLoughlin Blvd Monday-Thursday 5:30am to   9pm; Friday 5:30am to 8 pm; Saturday 7am to 7pm; closed Sunday
  • Firstenburg Community Center, 700 N.E. 136th Ave.; Monday-Thursday, 5:30am to 9pm;  Friday 5:30am to 8pm; Saturday 8am to 7pm; Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
  • Vancouver Public Works’ Water Resources Education Center, along the Columbia River and waterfront trail, is an air-conditioned option for exploring our natural resources, from the aquaria to hands-on exhibits to toddler-size learning at Puddles Place.  Regular Water Center hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, and from noon to 5pm on Saturday. Admission is free. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • And Vancouver Parks and Recreation has a fantastic interactive map for locating parks with potable water access.

 

  • In Washougal: 
    • Cooling stations are now available at Washougal municipal complex at 1701 C Street during business hours to provide relief from the expected high temperatures.
    • City Hall:  M – F 8-5
    • Washougal Library:  Wednesday 10:00am – 6:00pm, Thursday 10:00am – 6:00pm, Friday 10:00am – 6:00pm.
    • Washougal Community Center: M-Th 9-3 and Friday 4-6, Sunday 1-6.

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.

Thank You

Greetings,

This week has been set aside for us to recognize our 9-1-1 Dispatchers here at CRESA and to celebrate National Telecommunicators Week April 9th – 15th.

Our Dispatchers work long hours; at times, 14-hour days serving 25 different police, fire and medical response agencies in Clark County. Last year our Dispatchers received and processed over 408,000 calls; approximately one call every 78 seconds.

Dispatchers are the First – “First-Responders”.  They provide the critical link and the “calm voice” between the community and the responding agencies sent to the scene.  Dispatchers provide information to the responding units while reassuring and directing the caller what to do.

It has been noted in the past, a 911 dispatcher is asked to wear many hats and to switch roles at a moment’s notice as needed.  Roles include everything from: Teacher, Coach, Counselor, Researcher, Geography expert, Negotiator, Resource Manager or “mom”, to name a few.

As an industry, we ask a lot of these dedicated individuals while expecting them to get it right each and every time.   We ask them to gather information from scared, frantic or angry citizens, who often don’t know where they are; type everything into a computer aided dispatch system; determine a priority and dispatch the appropriate help; continue gathering information while listening for calling responders; pass hazard information along to Police, Fire and EMS personnel, switching quickly from one task to the next.

 

Our Dispatchers are passionate and take their responsibilities seriously.  They are driven to do well and care personally about the citizens, officers, fire fighters and medics they serve.  It takes a special type of individual to handle the long hours, multi-tasking and emotional toll it takes to keep the citizens and first responders of Clark County safe.  This is the life of a public safety telecommunicator, or more often known as the 911 dispatcher.

Our community is blessed with having some of the best in the industry and it is my honor to be able to work on a daily basis with the women and men who sit behind the mic and serve as the First-“First Responders”, who are there 24 hours a day, seven days of the week, 365 days of the year.

Please join me this week to pause and take the opportunity to thank them for the great job they do each and every day.

 

Dave Fuller, Director

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency

 

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.

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, waccidental callshich 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!!  In 2015, CRESA received over 408,000 911 calls.   62, 047 of those calls were accidental or incomplete that required a dispatcher to call the caller back to verify there was not an emergency!  Around 1800 of those accidental calls ended in 911 dispatch sending law enforcement to check on the caller.   Just think of the time involved in OVER 62,000 calls answered, and then having to be called back.

                                               Video from King County 911

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 phone may cause 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.

Happy Public Safety Telecommunications Week 2017!

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.

Spring Forward, Change Clocks & Check Smoke Detector

 

Early Sunday morning on March 12th , Daylight Savings Time begins. We will loose time by moving our clocks forward an hour.

Even though we loose an hour it only takes minutes to check your fire alarms, change the batteries and ensure they are in good working order before spring begins.

By doing this one simple thing you can take comfort in knowing your alarms will be ready to let you know when fire danger looms.

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