Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cell Phone Sally 9-1-1 Spotlight: Telecommunicator Andrea Davis


1. Tell me your history with 911: How long have you been a 9-1-1 telecommunicator and in what area do you serve?
 
I have been a dispatcher for seven years all together now.  I served in Colorado City and now I have been in Sweetwater, Texas for five years.


2.  I’m sure you hear a lot of interesting stories when answering calls, but what is one story that sticks out in your head that might have been scary, but turned out funny and/or everything worked out after the call.
 
The scariest call I've ever had, was when I got a call from a female who's boyfriend was holding a knife to her throat.  My guys got there, and he ended up going to jail.


3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for 9-1-1?
 
We feel, pain, compassion, love, and, yes, even anger sometimes. We feel all of these things, but we still come to work everyday, and put those emotions aside, and are as professional  as we can be!


4. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
 
I enjoy the day to day, because you never know what will happen next. And sometimes, I get to save a few lives.


5. Why do you think it is important for people to have 9-1-1 as a resource for emergency help?
 
So that people can  reach out to emergency services, for help, weather it be minor or major.


6.  If you could share one piece of advice with the world regarding 9-1-1, what would it be and why?
 
When calling, try to remain calm, and always know your location.  And please remember, that the dispatcher on the other end is only human.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Practice Safety First This Thanksgiving Holiday

During this time of year, when family and friends get together to celebrate each other and all that they are thankful for, we like to remind everyone to practice safety first during all the holiday celebrations. It is also an excellent time to remind children what to do in case of an emergency! Check out some tips we have compiled for you to make your holiday a little more safe and prepared.

Traveling
Many families will be on the road traveling to visit friends and relatives for Thanksgiving- they actually are stating on the news that this will be the biggest travel year in almost 10 years. Please remember not to use your cell phone when you are driving- this means no texting and driving either! It is best to always pull over if you need to talk or text on the phone. It only takes seconds for an accident to occur so keep your eyes on the road at all times. Distracted drivers and any harsh weather conditions can be a recipe for disaster. So remember to keep alert and dial 9-1-1 if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation. (And Know Your Location!) Install the FEMA app for Weather Alerts, safety tips, emergency checklists and more. Here is the link: FEMA APP

Cooking
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is all the delicious dishes created by friends and loved ones alike! When preparing these yummy dishes, please remember to be smart and safe. Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning and while it’s normally not fatal, it is widespread. It is typically found in raw meats, poultry, eggs, milk, fish and their bi-products. Salmonella can only be destroyed by cooking food thoroughly and with temperatures above 140 degrees.

Food poisoning usually happens because of poor food handling practices. Symptoms can include fever, headache, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. The guilty party in all food poisonings is bacteria, which enters our bodies through contaminated food. Wash hands, dishes, utensils, kitchen equipment and work surfaces before and after handling. Be particularly careful around knives, washing them thoroughly after each use. And remember, even frozen food can contain bacteria. If you think you might have been poisoned, please do not hesitate to contact poison control for help at 1-800-222-1222.

Below is a video on fire-safe cooking from NFPA. Remember, if a fire occurs please do not hesitate to dial 9-1-1 for help! (See Turkey Fryer Safety)

Home Safety
Be smart if you plan to travel away from your home for the holidays. Do not post that you are going to be out of town on any social media sites. Secure all windows and doors so there is no easy entry into your home and set an alarm system if you have one. If you can, have a friend move your car occasionally while you are gone so it looks like someone is home. Thieves love to prey on easy targets so please do not be an easy target and keep your home safe. And if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for help.

 
Turkey Fryer Safety

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Halloween: Tips for a Spooky Safe Time!

Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year which means children will be out early to start their trick or treating and Halloween festivities! While this time of year brings spooky fun and children get to enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters, it is also a time when safety becomes a very important topic.

Check out some tips from Cell Phone Sally on how to have a happy Halloween as well as a safe and smart holiday:

·         Always buddy up when trick or treating. Walk in groups with a trusted adult.

·         Avoid costumes that are too dark. Light and reflective clothing is best. Fasten reflective tape onto costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

·         Wear costumes that are also “flame-resistant”; most costumes show this labeled on them. If you make your own costume, use flame resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.

·         Try and stay away from costumes that utilize masks and instead op for make-up and hats to dress up your costume.

·         Make sure any make-up you use is safe for the skin and not old. If it has a smell to it, throw it out. And if you develop a rash, redness, or swelling, then you could be allergic to the make-up and should refrain from using.

·         Make sure to examine all the candy when you get home. Check for any choking hazards or candy that has been tampered with. And don’t eat too much candy when you get home- it could make you sick to your stomach.

·         Parents of young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts and hard candies, or even small toys from Halloween bags.

·         Before bobbing for apples, a common Halloween game, reduce the risk of bacteria by thoroughly rinsing the apples under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

·         Take a flashlight with you to help guide your way in the dark and to make you more visible to vehicles.  

·         Always look both ways before crossing the street. Cars move fast so be aware of your surroundings.

·         Enter homes ONLY if you are with a trusted adult. And never under any circumstances accept a ride from a stranger.

·         Carry a cell phone with you to make sure you can contact help in case of an emergency.

·         If you are ever in an emergency situation, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.

 

We hope everyone has a wonderfully spooky and fun Halloween! Make sure to stay safe!

Monday, September 18, 2017

National Preparedness Month Takes on a Whole New Meaning after Hurricane Harvey and other Natural Disasters

Tragedy struck Texas recently when Hurricane Harvey made landfall and destroyed homes, roads and more. As homes flooded and people found themselves in various emergency situations, it was a grim reminder that one can never be too prepared for a natural disaster to strike.

September marks National Preparedness Month and Cell Phone Sally wants to remind you to be prepared for an emergency whether it be a hurricane, a fire, an earthquake, or some other natural disaster. You never know what type of emergency situation could affect you, which is why it is so incredibly important to have an emergency kit prepared with you at all times. Together we can make sure no matter where you are, you are prepared to take on an emergency situation in a calm and ready manner.

Here are the basics:
Be Informed: When it comes to being prepared for a disaster, there is no such thing as being too prepared. Being informed about the different types of emergencies that can happen in your area and their appropriate responses includes learning about the hazards that may strike your community, the risks you face from these hazards and your community’s plans for warning and evacuation. Awareness is the first key to being prepared. Want to know more? Visit https://www.ready.gov/be-informed.
Make a Plan: Put a plan in place with your family and loved ones. You always want to be prepared for the “what ifs” so that when the emergency occurs, you feel more confident in contacting and locating your loved ones. Remember to think about how you will get in touch with each other to let each other know you are safe or if you need help. You also need to know where you plan on meeting to get back together during disastrous times. And lastly, you should communicate with your loved ones how you would react and what you would do depending on the type of emergency. For more info, visit http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.
Build a Kit: Use building a kit as an opportunity to bond with your family and loved ones. Involve children in the process too so that they feel they are contributing to ways they can help their family in an emergency. Things to include in a supply kit include food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days which is why you want to have plenty of food and water to survive on. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. To find a complete checklist of the supplies your household may need in the event of an emergency, visit http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
Take Action: This is your chance to get involved with your community. You can do this by visiting www.CitizenCorps.gov to find local Citizen Corps Councils. You can also look into USAonWatch (Neighborhood Watch) groups, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Fire Corps programs, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) programs, and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units. Ask them what you can do to prepare yourself and your community for disasters and how to get involved locally. National Day of Action is September 30th. During this grassroots national day of action, head over to this link and learn all about America’s Prepathon as well as register your preparedness activities.
Cell Phone Sally wants to remind you that 9-1-1 is a valuable resource and way to get or find help in any emergency situation. And remember- never use 9-1-1 for fun as it can clog up the phone lines for real emergencies.

 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kari’s Law Compliance by September 1, 2017

As of September 1st, 2016 Kari’s Law has been a big topic in Texas. That’s when the law first went into effect and businesses with multi-line telephone systems (MLTS), also known as PBX phones, must now provide direct access to 9-1-1 without having to dial an additional digit such as 9. Texas is not the only state that has adopted a Kari’s Law- Illinois, Tennessee, Maryland and New York City have as well. More states are working on their own version of Kari’s Law, and at the federal level, a similar law has now passed in the House and the Senate and is now making its way to committee.

Kari’s Law represents a culmination of efforts in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kari Hunt. For those who do not know the story, Kari Hunt met her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas with their kids. During the meeting, Kari’s husband attacked her in the bathroom and ultimately killed her. Kari’s 9-year-old daughter attempted to dial 9-1-1 several times and she was unable to get through because the hotel phone required you to dial a 9 first to get to an outside line. By the time help was able to arrive, it was too late.

Since Kari’s death, her father Hank Hunt has made it his mission to educate the public as well as elected officials across the U.S. about the important need to change all MLTS phones to provide direct access to 9-1-1. That means any phone that you would usually have to dial a number to get an outside line first (i.e. hotels, schools, large businesses, and hospitals) should now be able to dial 9-1-1 and get connected to 9-1-1 immediately.

It is important that businesses comply with this law. If for some reason the existing MLTS cannot be re-programmed or replaced, then a one-year waiver will be granted upon timely submission of an affidavit. The waiver as well as more information on this law and how it works is located at www.texas911.org.

CSEC created a PSA to bring awareness to the law (it is also available in Spanish). They then created a toolkit to assist 9-1-1 educators and coordinators with their efforts in educating businesses and the public. The toolkit includes a media release template (English and Spanish), a brochure (English and Spanish), a list of business outreach opportunities and a letter template to send out to business service users (BSUs) who have MLTS phones. You can find the toolkit here. Let’s make sure all businesses with MLTS phones provide direct access to 9-1-1 because it could and will ultimately help save lives.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

June Marks National Safety Month 2017

During the month of June, thousands of organizations throughout the country raise awareness on various safety issues at home, work and on the road. By raising these safety issues now, this month hopes to bring attentiveness to your surroundings and making sure you and those around you stay safe.

Safety in the Home
In 2011, poisonings became the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the United States surpassing vehicle motor crashes. Poisonings can include taking too much medication, taking the wrong medication or accidentally mixing the wrong medications. It can also include coming in contact with gases and other chemicals. That’s why it is so important to keep medications up high and locked away for safety. If you have young children in the home, make sure any cleaning chemicals or similar type products are also up high and out of reach. If you or a loved one has a possible poisoning, please do not hesitate to contact poison control at 1-800-222-1222 for assistance 24 hours, 7 days a week. If someone is in need of immediate help, please contact 9-1-1.

Safety in the Workplace
OSHA Compliance Training consists of safety training in the workplace. For a variety of online training courses offered by the National Safety Council, visit http://www.nsc.org/learn/Safety-Training/Pages/workplace-training-compliance-training.aspx.

Slip, trip and fall prevention is the most basic safety precautions one can take. Make sure to always wear appropriate footwear and always be aware of your surroundings. These types of injuries are preventable. For more information visit http://www.nsc.org/learn/Safety-Training/Pages/Preventing-Slips-Trips-and-Falls.aspx.

Safety on the Roads
According to the NSC, in 2015, more than 38,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes. While impaired driving is still a big factor, distracted driving is becoming a major concern. Make sure to ensure these steps when driving:

·         Do not text and drive.
·         Practice awareness.
·         Always wear your seatbelt.
·         Take defensive driving courses if needed.

If you are in an accident or need immediate help, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for assistance!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Prepping for Hurricanes during the Month of May

Hurricane Preparedness Week fell during the first full week of May (May 7-13, 2017), but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to discuss and prepare for hurricane season. As the National Weather Service says, it only takes one storm to change your life and community.

Hurricanes, also known as tropical cyclones, can be some of nature’s most dangerous and destructive types of storms that we can face, especially if you live in an area prone to these type of storms which are usually near coastlines. But even areas that aren’t near coastlines can suffer from destructive flooding, high winds, and hurricanes that turn into tornadoes.
Follow these steps to first determine if you fall in danger of a hurricane area and if so, what steps you should take to make sure you are prepared.

What is Your Risk?
Determine what type of storms and water hazards occur in your area and start prepping on how to handle them. Check out this link to see the tracking of where hurricanes have historically gone in the past: https://coast.noaa.gov/hurricanes/.

Develop an Evacuation Plan
If you live in an evacuation zone, plan your route out and figure out what you will do with your pets as well if you have any. Always follow evacuation orders from officials and leave immediately because storms move faster than you realize.

Create a Disaster Kit
You never know if you will need supplies so always have a disaster kit put together for emergencies like this. Items such as non-perishable foods, water, medicines, battery-powered radios, and flashlights are just some of the most important items you want to make sure you have. For more items that you would want in a disaster kit, check out this link: http://flash.org/peril_inside.php?id=84.

For more information on hurricane season and how you can be prepared, please visit the National Weather Service Hurricane Safety Tips and Resource Page at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hurricane/index.shtml. And remember, if you find yourself in an emergency, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for help or assistance.

Check out the video below to see how to get ready for a hurricane!