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EXTRA-ORDINARY AND UNIQUE CALLS ROUND-ROBIN
The best stories are never ordinary and often unexpected. In 9-1-1 we often say, "Expect the unexpected." We spoke with six guests from Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in the El Paso-Teller County region, to share their most unusual and challenging calls in this “Round Robin” style podcast episode.
Below is this episode’s guest lineup:
Eric Johnson is a Shift Supervisor at Colorado Springs Police and Fire Communication Center. He shared some of his interesting calls over his 26 years of experience at multiple agencies. You can listen to the podcast he referenced, called the Retro Video Store.
Derek Mitzner is an Emergency Response Technician with Colorado Springs Police and Fire Communication Center and recent award winner of the Telecommunicator of the Quarter for an entrapment call. While his background is in event broadcasting, he admits that this is the most challenging yet rewarding job he has worked. He retold the story of his award-winning call as well as several other unique calls.
Jesus Suarez is a Public Safety Communications Supervisor at Colorado Springs Police and Fire Communication Center. According to Jesus, the most challenging calls are the ones that share commonalities in our own lives. He gave some insightful tips on how to process these emotionally and mentally taxing calls. He also touched on resiliency and discussed the importance of active listening to provide callers and responders with better service.
Alicia Seymour is an Emergency Response Technician with the Colorado Springs Police and Fire Communication Center. She shared some unexpected calls and how they have impacted her. Her perspective on the job and strategies are both uplifting and refreshing. Alicia had tons of tips on how to provide superior customer service and keep a positive outlook.
Mike O’Malley is an Emergency Response Technician with the Colorado Springs Police and Fire Communication Center and has worked for multiple agencies. He revealed some of his most unusual calls as well as shared some ways he has improved call-processing quality and communication with callers. He provided ways to constructively cope with stress.
Tim McMillin is a 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatcher with Teller County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to dispatch, he worked in broadcast communications to include working for ESPN. He gave some excellent advice on call documentation, active listening, ways to gain caller cooperation, and how to preserve our mental integrity post-call.
BRIDGING EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION AND CREATING AN EFFECTIVE CAMPAIGN WITH MAURICIO OROZCO
Mauricio Orozco is the Public Information Officer, IT Director, and Data Privacy Liaison for South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs. He has created several social media campaigns from various National Heritage Months to a Hurricane Guide. He has also led information security and emergency management training and was a keynote speaker at a Hispanic Heritage Month event.
In this episode, Mauricio shares:
- His involvement with Hurricane Andrew and Tropical Storm Allison and how those experiences made him realize a need for improved emergency messaging across different communities
- How he began the process of improving communication with different ethnic populations
- The need to inform and encourage people to get involved in the community
- Emergency messaging and communication with various national and indigenous languages and how to bridge them together
- Current campaigns such as hurricane, tornado, and earthquake preparedness
- His involvement with Hispanic Heritage Month
- His background in information technology and cyber security and tips
- How his organization handles Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and the overall process
- The PIO Podcast
- Daughters of Smoke and Fire
- Pow Wow Life Podcast
- Falling Water as his next destination of choice
Also, did you know the taco can be traced back to Turkey? It’s fascinating to learn the origins of many cultures to include food, traditions, and rituals!
the importance of utilizing protocols and reinventing training with jennica elwell
Jennica Elwell never expected she would pursue a career in 9-1-1 when she was transitioning from the field of cosmetology. And her initial impression of dispatch was just as unanticipated. After falling in love with dispatch for the Woodland Park Police Department, Jennica has become passionate about protocols and training for a multitude of reasons. Now a quality assurance analyst and trainer, Jennica continues to strive for innovation and excellence.
In this episode, Jennica:
- Provides her story
- Shares why training and protocol usage is so impactful and gives some great tips along the way.
- Discusses the Emergency Telecommunicator Course (ETC) from the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) and how she and her team have added their spin to the course
- Continuing Dispatch Education
"anything on the table is free rein." - Caryn deMarco
Caryn DeMarco started in public service as a program supervisor with the park district and worked her way into the police department’s communication center. She broadened her knowledge of 9-1-1 when she became the Office Administrator at Will County 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System in Illinois. Caryn’s strong work ethic landed her an additional job title when she was given the task of public education. She sought out resources and networked to ensure her programs would succeed. And it’s no surprise that Caryn is one of the founders of the National Public Safety Educators Forum (NPEF) as she continues to strive for excellence in the industry. In this episode, you’ll learn more about Caryn DeMarco and:
- Consolidation within Will County due to technology changes over her career (from 9 PSAPs to 3)
- Emergency Telephone Board (ETSB) structures
- 911 funding and distribution
- Public education and outreach tips
- Council of Government (COG)
- National Emergency Number Association (NENA)’s page regarding the 9-1-1 surcharge
- Christy Williams with NENA
- Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
- National Public Safety Educators Forum (NPEF)
- Public Educators of Texas (PETS)
- Within the Trenches Podcast hosted by Ricardo Martinez II
"WE ARE THE FIRST, FIRST RESPONDERS WHEN YOU PICK UP THAT PHONE..." - Diann PRITCHARD
Diann Pritchard has quite the story in emergency services. She began her journey in emergency services working for a volunteer ambulance with a “hotline” that would continuously ring until it was answered. After obtaining the address and nature of the call, the ambulance service would call volunteers to respond. The discussion of providing volunteer drivers with some medical training was just being discussed. When Diann moved to Colorado (on the Fourth of July), she worked numerous jobs and became the second woman to join the Green Mountain Falls Fire Department serving as a Firefighter/EMT. She was always curious to know what happened on the other side of the radio. And so, when she read an ad for a dispatch position at the Cripple Creek Police Department, she seized the opportunity. Since then, Diann has moved up the ranks to become a Communication Center Manager and 9-1-1 Authority Board Member.
In this episode Diann brings an insight on:
- Changes in emergency services
- Driving forces for protocols and standardization
- Managerial techniques
- Training programs and leveraging individual learning styles
- Benefits of mentor programs
- Quality assurance processes for smaller centers
- First responder classification for telecommunicators
- Leadership and lessons learned
a belated introduction of host, amanda lindgren with benjamin gairrett and claire linné
Meet your host, Amanda Lindgren! Amanda has been in 9-1-1 for eight years and has worked as a call taker, dispatcher, and public educator. She’s been able to apply her marketing background to her current role to bring public education programs to a new level. In this podcast Amanda discusses:
- Her experiences in a variety of roles
- Growth in communication and learning how to overcome weaknesses in our individual communication style
- Adaptability to education programs during the pandemic and recent achievements
- How perspectives influence others
CYBERSECURITY AND VIRTUALIZATION WITH BENJAMIN GAIRRETT - PART 3
You may be surprised by the target of a recent data breach. Hint: The platform has approximately 2.6 billion users (and you may be one of them). Benjamin Gairrett, IT Support Manager at the Authority, shares this recent cyber-attack, ways you can find out if you were affected, and more in part three of this three-part podcast episode!
In this episode, Benjamin discusses
- More cyber-attacks!
- The handling of a recent network outage due to fiber connection damage
- Ways to start a career in information technology within 9-1-1
Ben refers to:
cybersecurity and virtualization with benjamin gairrett - part 2
Did you know that the first few rings when you place a call are fake?! While your call is being routed and connected, that ring-back tone is to let you know that something is happening behind the scenes. Dive deeper into how 9-1-1 works and more in part two of this three-part podcast!
In this episode Benjamin discusses:
- The biggest points of cyber vulnerability for an organization and what users can do to increase online security
- The difference between Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) vs. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and the truth behind them
- How to implement good Internet browsing habits
- The pros and cons of password keepers
- Updates to our newly implemented 9-1-1 system
- How 9-1-1 works and how 9-1-1 is working towards obtaining z-axis coordinate information
- Cell phone tower design/technology
- 9-1-1 texting capabilities
Benjamin refers to:
- ANI/ALI (Automatic Number Identification/Automatic Location Identification)
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) systems
- Wireless Phase I and Wireless Phase II information and data sources
- Demarcation points of call delivery
- TTY (text telephone), video relay, and language line use and services
CYBERSECURITY AND VIRTUALIZATION WITH BENJAMIN GAIRRETT, ENP - PART 1
You’ve been hacked! Cyber-attacks seem to be a constant concern for many organizations and 9-1-1 is not excluded. Benjamin Gairrett, ENP, Information Technology Support Manager at the El Paso-Teller County 9-1-1 Authority shares some recently discovered vulnerabilities and how the Authority was impacted. He also gives more updates in 9-1-1 technology in part one of this three-part episode!
In this episode Ben discusses:
- Changes in work environments within the 9-1-1 industry and movements to remote and hybrid work
- Benefits and capabilities of remote dispatching and call-handling
- Technical requirements and specs for remote work environments
- Satellite network that provides high-speed internet to remote locations
- Migration and redundancy in data centers and technology
- Virtualization and disaster recovery
- Recent cyber-attacks and organization vulnerabilities
- Social engineering
- What users can do to prevent being hacked
- Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
- Elon Musk’s company, Starlink
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
- White hat, black hat, and gray hat hackers
- Unified access gateway (UAG)
- Public Safety Communications article How One ECC Installed Remote 9-1-1 Operations
- Arlington County VA ECC Takes on the Pandemic with Remote Capabilities
- Episode 49: FirstNet Helps Emergency Communications Center Adapt during Pandemic
RESHAPING THE WAY WE PERCEIVE, COMMUNICATE, AND LEARN WITH JOSCELYN NISKI
Joscelyn Niski has been in 9-1-1 for ten years. She worked as an Emergency Response Technician, Public Safety Dispatcher, and is now an IAED certified quality assurance analyst. Prior to her emergency communications career, Joscelyn worked a variety of jobs to include providing customer service at a call center. Her initial assumptions of what it would be like working at a 9-1-1 center were very different than what she or her first responder family expected. In this episode, hear about:
- How perceptions of 9-1-1 can be reshaped.
- The importance of demonstrating confidence in our decisions and learning from mistakes as a team.
- The significance of evaluating and changing our communication styles.
- Ways she uses energizers during training.
- Communication Feedback: Know Thyself through Employer’s Council. Helps understand other people’s learning and communication styles.
- Her hobby of photography. You can see some of her photos on her Facebook page, Joscelyn Brice Photography.
- Modern Cross Stitching, as an alternative hobby and way to reduce stress.
- The Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman.
How to think big and leverage expectations to create action with robin lindberg.
Robin Lindberg has been in 9-1-1 for eighteen years and has worked for three separate agencies as a dispatcher and trainer. At one point she worked at Woodland Park Police Department, Teller County Sheriff’s Office, and Cripple Creek Police Department at one time! She’s taken APCO’s Certified Training Officer and NENA’s Supervisor classes. Prior to 9-1-1 Robin worked as a lead at Sea World San Diego and has been the star in several theatrical performances to include playing a deceased male. This former theatre buff shares her experiences and gives tips on transitioning between agencies. Robin discusses how she:
- Leverages technology to her advantage and improve efficiency
- Ways she practices patience and understanding
- Finds similarities in processes and protocols between agencies
- Has handled challenging calls and incidents as a dispatcher
- Had an ambulance crew taken into law enforcement custody
- Processes difficult calls
Robin recommends and references
- The benefits of debriefing
- Tips for being a good caller and witness
- Cross stitching for stress reduction
- The Outlander Series
- The play, Arsenic and Old Lace which was also made into a movie
"WHATEVER YOU PUT INTO IT, IS A DIRECT RESULT OF WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO GET OUT OF IT." A CHAT WITH TY WOOTEN, ENP.
If anyone can train 18,000 people in 18 months, it’s Ty Wooten, ENP and Director of Education at the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). While he wasn’t working at NENA at the time, he was training public safety officials. Ty’s 27 years in 9-1-1 have varied from working as a Communications Officer at Hancock County Sheriff’s Department to Emergency Communications Manager at Indianapolis International Airport, and everything in between. He founded a tactical dispatch team and many other industry standards that are in place today.
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- The benefits of tactical dispatch teams.
- Indiana Box Company’s seven-alarm fire in Indianapolis.
- The importance of involvement in 9-1-1.
- The value of industry standards and best practices.
- Numbers other countries use for emergencies.
- How Europe handles incoming 9-1-1 calls.
- Ty’s vision for 9-1-1.
- National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
- NENA’s Tactical Dispatch Course which is one of 26 different training programs
- I3 Standard in Next Generation 9-1-1
- Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA)
- Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
- European Emergency Number Association (EENA)
- Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
GOOGLE ISN'T ALWAYS ACCURATE AND WE DO A LOT MORE THAN JUST MAKE PRETTY MAPS. A CHAT WITH JUSTIN ANNAN.
Have you ever come across an error in a project and felt overwhelmed? Now imagine finding 60,000 errors in that project! Where would you begin? Justin Annan is the GIS Analyst and MSAG and Street Naming Coordinator at the Authority. Justin served in the Marine Corps in field artillery and deployed to Iraq. He also studied Journalism at UCCS before switching to Geographic Information Systems. Hear how this former marine conquered a very large project and more in this episode!
This episode breaks down and defines:
- GIS. What is it? According to Justin, Geographic Information Systems (or GIS) is the process of gathering, managing, and analyzing spatial data to tie it to locations and symbolize it in different ways.
- Site points. Our two-county region has over 300,000 of them along with 50,000 road segments. But what is a site point? What’s a building footprint? How does GIS pull all of this information together?
- Road centerline data. The road centerline data includes attributes like the speed limit, traffic direction, address ranges, the community, county, and more.
- Plat maps. You can also learn more about plat maps and other GIS legal descriptions on the Assessor's webpage.
- The street naming process. Discover that MSAG stands for Master Street Address Guide which includes all of the different road segments and address points for our region. While it's not a spatial data set or connected to our 9-1-1 data, it must synchronize with both types of data.
You will also hear about the updating process and how it's changed to a more simplified, streamlined process. As well as his upcoming project road naming convention project. Creating alias names for roads to make them easier to find for call takers/dispatchers and other responders.
make a list and check it to reduce stress. a chat with jenna kester.
Curious to know who was the first person to get the Emergency Number Professional certification in Colorado Springs? Well, look no further than our own quality assurance analyst, Jenna Kester! Prior to joining the El Paso-Teller County 9-1-1 Authority team, Jenna was an emergency response technician and dispatcher at Colorado Springs Police Department for 13 years. She also holds her CMCP.
In this episode, you will hear about:
- Changes in dispatch protocols over the years.
- The reasoning behind the protocols we use.
- The accreditation process.
- Her tips for new call takers and dispatchers.
TRY TO FIND A MIDDLE GROUND THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE. DAN AUSEC DISCUSSES THE CENTRALIZATION OF CAD.
Dan Ausec had no idea that wildland firefighting would lift him from a career in health and exercise science, to working with numerous agencies to centralize a computer-aided dispatch system (CAD). If you don't know who Dan Ausec is, this episode will introduce you to the CAD and GIS manager at the El Paso-Teller County 9-1-1 Authority. Dan has worked as a wildland firefighter, emergency services dispatcher, trainer, supervisor, tactical dispatcher, and CAD administrator. Dan constantly focuses on the next phase of development and improvement.
In this episode Dan shares:
- The centralization of CAD.
- The importance of project management.
- Recent advancements in CAD.
- Recent changes in mapping systems.
Some links and references:
FROM THE BACK OF AN AMBULANCE TO THE DISPATCH FLOOR. A CHAT WITH ARDELLE GRIMA.
Want to know what it takes to become a quality assurance analyst? Meet Ardelle Grima! She has years of experience as an EMT, emergency services dispatcher, and quality assurance analyst. Ardelle shares what led her to quality assurance and what it takes to be a quality assurance analyst.
Be prepared to hear some laughs and learn about:
- How the call scoring process works
- Some tips to improve compliance scores
- The heaviest weighted questions and things to avoid when using emergency dispatch protocols
- Ways to redirect difficult callers
- Tips for using ProQA
In this episode Ardelle references
MAKE TRAINING YOUR WORK HOBBY. A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN LOFGREN.
Do you stress over certain calls? Are you worried about compliance scores? John Lofgren may have a few solutions for you. John has incorporated his experience as a firefighter, police officer, dispatcher, and supervisor to enhance how he coaches both his team and other agencies. As a certified instructor with the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch and Training Manager at the Authority, John shares some of his knowledge and tips in quality assurance and training.
In this episode, John discusses:
- The shift from quality improvement to training.
- Ways to prepare for certain calls.
- How calls are reviewed during the quality assurance process.
- How to build team cohesion and consistency.
- The International Academy of Emergency Dispatch
- Training through the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) such as the Center Manager Certification Program (CMCP) and the Certified Training Officer (CTO) program. You can learn more about all of NENA’s programs at nena.org.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell
- Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
Jessica Flohrs is the Communications Center Manager at Teller County Sheriff's Office and has years of experience as a dispatcher, trainer, supervisor, and quality assurance analyst. Jessica holds a Communications Center Manager Certification through the National Emergency Number Association along with many other certifications.
If you have ever experienced overload, this is a great episode for you. Jessica reminds us that our brains are always capable of learning and re-learning if we allow ourselves time to train and grow. She's had to re-train herself through working at different agencies and training others. She also reminds us that, "They're just people" and we are all human.
During this episode of the podcast, you will hear about:
- Some of Jessica's defining moments and why she has stayed in this career.
- Her approach to leadership and training.
- Tips on how to transition into a new role and different agency.
- Recent technology changes in her center.
- A surprising fact about 9-1-1 service.
Eric Johnson is a shift supervisor at the Colorado Springs Public Safety Communications Center and holds his CMCP. He has "been in the business" for 26 years and has worked for multiple agencies as an emergency response technician, public safety dispatcher, quality assurance specialist, trainer, and supervisor. Eric reminds us that it's important to be introspective and find compromise when training different learning styles. Not only will you hear about changes he's seen in technology, training, and processes but you'll also get some tips on transitioning into different roles and ways to strengthen your position and career. Eric discusses the importance of:
- Adapting to different learning and communication styles.
- Establishing standards and thresholds in management.
- Creating timetables and routines.
- Leveraging technology to assist in tasks and projects.
- Seeking ways to grow in this field.
In this episode Eric references:
FINDING THE BALANCE BETWEEN INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC REWARDS AS A MANAGER. A CHAT WITH RENEE HENSHAW.
In this episode, Renee discusses:
- The evolution of call answering and dispatch processes.
- Changes in the tracking of information and data collection.
- Changes in technology and 9-1-1 systems.
- Ways to achieve longevity in the profession.
- Takeaways from working in a variety of positions.
- Interesting facts about her agency's communications center.
- Things she has done to improve employee health, work environment, and employee retention.
- Upcoming changes in the communications center.
- The Colorado Springs Public Safety Communications Center.
- Accreditation from the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch.
LEGO OF MY SERVER! hOW INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DIFFERS BETWEEN INDUSTRIES. A CHAT WITH BENJAMIN GAIRRETT.
“The IT guy is going to just tell me to restart it.” Are you curious to know more about what an IT department is doing behind the scenes, specifically within the 9-1-1 industry? This episode will answer your burning questions about information technology within a public safety government entity. Benjamin Gairrett is the information technology support manager at the Authority and holds many certifications to include the ENP and CMCP. He discusses how technology and the industry has changed over his 9 years at the Authority. He has used his military background and experience to breakdown functional silos and build “esprit de corps” within the IT department.
In this episode Benjamin talks about:
- How technology has changed since working at Fort Carson, Norad, and the Authority.
- The benefits and growth of virtualization.
- His excitement with the relatively new Centralized Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD).
- Tips for those getting into information technology.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO? A LITTLE HISTORY WITH CHRISTY DAVIS.
Ever wonder what happens to the 9-1-1 surcharge or how the El Paso-Teller County 9-1-1 Authority came to be? In our most recent 9-1-1 Weight in Gold episode, Christy Davis shares her knowledge of the Authority's history and how a variety of services are covered with the surcharge. She discusses the changes she's seen in her profession as well as the 9-1-1 Authority and the constant demand to change with the times.
In this episode you will learn about:
- How the surcharge is distributed and the criteria for funding.
- How the 9-1-1 Authority has changed over the years.
- What types of projects and tasks she is responsible for managing.
- A few lessons learned when transitioning from a very small organization to a little bigger government entity.
FROM BEHIND A HEADSET TO STANDING ON A STAGE, HEAR HOW BEN BILLS BECAME A 9-1-1 PUBLIC EDUCATOR AND PIO.
Want to know what it takes to be an emergency telecommunicator or better yet a public information officer? Ben Bills tells his story about how he got started in emergency dispatch and how it evolved to working a variety of jobs at the 9-1-1 Authority until he found his calling as a public educator and information officer. He explains how he created a public education program from the ground up and got into public speaking.
In this episode you will learn about:
- The process of becoming an emergency services call taker and dispatcher.
- Difficult calls he has taken.
- How he handles stress.
- How he started an education program and department.
- Tips for public speaking and how to handle speaking in front of a large crowd.
TOGETHER WE'RE BETTER. A CONVERSATION WITH CARL SIMPSON, CEO OF THE EL PASO-TELLER COUNTY 9-1-1 AUTHORITY.
This episode references:
- Dale Carnegie - Check out How to Win Friends and Influence People and more resources.
- Simon Sinek - You can find many videos of him on YouTube or visit his website: Why Leaders Eat Last.
- Captain D. Michael Abrashoff's book, It's Your Ship.
- Jimmy Buffet - If you haven't heard of him, you can listen to his music online here.
9-1-1 Weight in Gold Trailer
We would like to introduce, 9-1-1 Weight in Gold! This podcast explores everything within the unique and complex world of 9-1-1. Starting from within our organization to the communication centers we serve, we will be discussing everything in the 9-1-1 industry.
Learn about the El Paso-Teller County 9-1-1 Authority as we chat with members from the Administration, IT, GIS, Quality Assurance and Training, and Public Education departments. Stay current with what's happening in 9-1-1 centers as we talk with communication center managers and telecommunicators. Discover more about 9-1-1 as we interview others in the industry.
These candid conversations are intended to be both informational and insightful. While we try to keep it light, some conversations may go deeper just like many stories in public safety do.
The podcast is currently available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more! Help us spread the word by subscribing and leaving it a review. You can also share, save, and like our social media posts about the podcast. Everything helps and is very appreciated!