Friday, November 30, 2018

Kari’s Law Resources and What You Need to Know


In 2016, Kari’s Law was signed in Texas. This means that 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 and this year (2018) President Trump signed a federal Kari’s Law into law.
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 multiple times and was unable to get through because the hotel phone required you to dial a 9 first to get an outside line. By the time help was able to arrive, it was sadly 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. It is important that businesses comply with this law. You can find more information about this law and how it works at www.texas911.org.
The Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) has created a PSA to bring awareness to the law. There is also a toolkit available to assist 9-1-1 educators and coordinators with their efforts in educating businesses and the public. The toolkit includes a media release template, a brochure, 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. Utilizing the toolkit can help in ensuring compliance efforts.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Tips and Tricks for Having a Spooky Good Time this Halloween!

Halloween is a time of year when children can dress up as their favorite characters, get lots of candy from neighbors and practice safety. Below are 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.

·         Utilize costumes or bracelets that have reflective material so that vehicles can see you in the dark.

·         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.

·         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.

·         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.

 

Stay safe this Halloween and have a spooky good time!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Check Your Smoke Alarms and More during Fire Prevention Week

This week (October 7-13, 2018) marks Fire Prevention Week and the theme this year is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” During this time, it’s important to review where fires have the most potential of occurring as well as testing your family’s escape plan, and making sure your fire alarms are working properly.

LOOK for places a fire could start
This week is a good time to do an assessment of your home and identify potential fire hazards and address them. Cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires. Leaving cooking unattended is the leading cause of home fires. Here are some tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

·         Remove clutter from cooking areas such as papers, small towels or oven mitts.

·         Always keep a close eye on what you are cooking. You should always stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for something, make sure to set a timer so you do not forget about whatever you might be cooking.

·         Always be alert! Cooking while you are sleepy or under the influence of alcohol or any other substance is incredibly dangerous.

Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fire. Issues such as failing to clean heating equipment properly is the leading cause of home heating fires. Below are some additional tips to safely heat your home in the winter months.

·         Have chimneys and heating equipment cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional yearly.

·         Make sure to keep anything that can burn easily at least three feet away from heating equipment such as furnaces, fire places, wood stoves and portable space heaters.

·         Always make sure you turn space heaters odd when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Another big cause of fires is candles. If you use candles in your home, ensure that you blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Keep candles away from items that can burn and use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t turn over easily. And never burn candles all the way down- put them out before they get too close to the holder or container.

LISTEN for the sound of the smoke alarm
Smoke alarms are the first line of defense in helping alert people of a fire so that they can get out safely. By having smoke alarms in your home, you cut your risk of dying by a fire in half. At minimum, install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, in each bedroom and near all sleeping areas. Test your smoke alarms regularly and replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old.

LEARN two ways out of every room
When a fire is happening, you may only have minutes or even seconds to escape safely. Practicing how to safely escape your home will help you immensely when you find yourself in this emergency situation.

Make sure to develop an escape plan with all members of your family. The escape plan should include:

·         Two ways out of every room, usually a door or a window.

·         A path to each exit to an outside area.

·         Most importantly, an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet and be accounted.
Practicing your escape plan twice a year will ensure you are prepared for any fire emergency. For more information on fire safety, visit www.nfpa.org. Remember, if you find yourself in a fire emergency, call 9-1-1 for help immediately and get to safety!

Friday, September 7, 2018

9-1-1 TC Spotlight: Mariah with Woodland Park PD

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself: Where are you from, what agency do you work for, how long have you been there?

My name is Mariah, I work for the Woodland Park Police Department (WPPD), I have worked for WPPD for 7 months now.

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.

Recently I received a call from a mother, her child had just started college and indulged in a handful of illegal narcotics. While under the influence this party had come to believe that he was a vampire and took a walk through the woods while carrying his laundry basket.

3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for 9-1-1?

We enjoy baked goods just has much as the Police Officers *wink wink*.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

I enjoy how interesting and off-the-wall some days can be.

5. What do you think is the hardest part about working your job and why?

I always want to do my absolute best and never make a mistake, but I am unfortunately human, so, the hardest part for me is making a mistake.

6. Why do you think it is important for people to have 9-1-1 as a resource for emergency help?

It’s a way to quickly and efficiently get someone the help they need.

7. If you could share one piece of advice with the world regarding 9-1-1, what would it be and why?

9-1-1 is for emergencies only. To ensure that true emergencies are tended to as soon as possible call your local Police Department’s, or Sheriff’s office administrative number for non-emergencies.

8. If you were talking to kids graduating high school who were not sure what field that wanted to go into, what would you tell them about your job and why it is such a fulfilling and worthwhile job?

I chose my job because I have always known that I have wanted to help people, I just wasn’t sure in which capacity. I knew being hands on with a patient or victim (such as being a Nurse or Paramedic) wasn’t something I wanted to do. I would tell those that are about to enter the workforce to reflect on their strengths and find out what inspires them, make a list of the jobs that match both criteria’s, and apply…apply everywhere.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cell Phone Sally TC Spotlight Blog: Kimberly Gordon from City of Gladewater


1.       Tell me a little bit about yourself: Where are you from, what agency do you work for, how long have you been there and what is your passion for working for 911?
 
My name is Kimberly Gordon. I am originally from Arkansas, but relocated to Texas back in 1995. My husband, Justin and I are currently in our second year of marriage and our blended family has 7 beautiful adult children and 3 and 3/4's adorable grandchildren. I currently work as the Communications Manager for Gladewater Police Department. I started my Law Enforcement Dispatching Career in 2004 with Gladewater, and have worked for Lancaster, Longview, and Kilgore Police Departments-some even simultaneously, before returning to Gladewater full time to accept this position.
My passion for working for 911 comes from my willingness to help those in need. I enjoy the feeling of knowing that I helped a person either through a difficult situation or maybe provided assistance for the smallest to biggest tasks, sometimes even when it may not have been within my area of expertise.
 
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.

 While working at one of my previous agencies, I received a call from a gentleman who stated he was down on his luck and wanted to end his life. I spoke to him about the importance of his life not only to his family and friends, but in general. We discussed the fact that he had recently lost his job and was without assistance. I offered him the names of locations that are known to provide assistance until he can get back on his feet. He told me that he was very happy he had spoken to me and decided against proceeding with his suicidal ideations.
On another note, I vividly recall taking a 911 call from a gentleman who was extremely upset because he was locked inside of his car and could not get out. After having him repeat his problem (because I was clearly thinking...are you serious?) I suggested that he try and pull his handle...and of course, he was free. He went on to say that he felt like an idiot for calling...and I just replied "that's what I'm here for!"

 
3.       What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for 9-1-1?

 If you don't know anything else, please KNOW YOUR LOCATION. That could be an address, intersection, street name, business name, etc. Any major landmark is extremely helpful. Please don't call in and expect the operator to be from that area and know "the pasture that John Doe use to own," or where "Lulu's house" is.
 

4.       What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
 
I enjoy being able to interact with people both over the phone and during community events like National Night Out and our Annual Fall Festival. I also love knowing that I am able to provide assistance to local citizens when needed, and being able to help keep my officers safe so that they too can go home to their loved ones.
 

5.       What do you think is the hardest part about working your job and why?

 I think that the hardest part of my job is managing the stress that is associated with dispatching. You sit in an uncomfortable chair at a workstation with multiple computer monitors for sometimes 12 hours or longer, without a lunch break and very minimal restroom breaks.
Also, not knowing the outcomes of certain calls can be stressful as well. You must possess the right amount of personal interest to handle a call, dispatch the appropriate personnel, and move on to the next call without allowing the circumstances of the call to adversely affect you.
 
6.       Why do you think it is important for people to have 9-1-1 as a resource for emergency help?
 
I think that it is important for people to have 9-1-1 as a resource for emergency help because in certain situations, it is a lot easier to dial a 3-digit number than try to recall a full 10 digits. I am also extremely happy about the implementation of text to 9-1-1 especially because now more than ever, people use text messages as their means of communication rather than being willing to hold a phone conversation.
 

7.       If you could share one piece of advice with the world regarding 9-1-1, what would it be and why?

 
One piece of advice I would share with the world is to remember that the 9-1-1 operator is human. We share the same qualities as you. We laugh, we cry, we hurt, and though we understand that you may be going through one of the worst situations of your life, we are here to help. There are certain questions that we must ask to ensure not only the safety of our responding emergency units, but we also need to get the appropriate personnel to respond to assist you. For example, you would not want for me to dispatch a police officer to your loved one who is possibly having a heart attack.
 
 

8.       If you were talking to kids graduating high school who were not sure what field that wanted to go into, what would you tell them about your job and why it is such a fulfilling and worthwhile job?
 
I would tell High School Graduates that becoming a 9-1-1 Dispatcher is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Rarely do you find a job making well above minimum wage, without a college degree, that gives you a sense of gratification such as this. You leave every day knowing that you have made a difference in a person’s life by offering assistance at a time that is needed most. I would be honest and say that not every call will be pleasant, but if you have the innate ability to withstand the bad calls, there are more than enough good calls that offer a genuine laugh when you need it most.
I recently read a blog that provided several personality traits that a dispatcher should possess. In summary, it stated that a good dispatcher would need to have a typing speed with “fingers like Mercury”, short term memory, the ability to multi-task, be able to find the happy medium between caring too much and caring too little, and be able to focus on the call that you may be taking at that time. If you possess all of these qualities, you possess the “IT” factor to be able handle this type of job. Dispatchers are like the flock of black sheep in the center of multi-colored sheep. Welcome to the flock!

 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

8th Annual NPEF Conference: Another Success in the Books!

At the 8th National Public Safety Educators Conference held in Charleston, South Carolina, public educators from all over the United States joined together to discuss public education initiatives, brainstorm new ideas for PSAs, and truly think outside the box to come up with crafty messages to reach target audiences. This conference is one of a kind due simply to the nature of how it is set up! Attendees did not have to worry about missing any speakers during their time at the conference because all speakers’ sessions were all in one room throughout the entire four-day conference.

This year, attendees had the opportunity to learn how to make a creative Public Service Announcement (PSA) and learned more about Kari’s Law, the 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 and Real Time Text (RTT), to name a few. The PSAs created by the attendees turned out truly phenomenal and to view them you can visit the Facebook NPEF website here: www.facebook.com/911NPEF. Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a bus tour of Charleston during their off-time from the conference.

Almost fifty percent of attendees were newcomers this year, which is always exciting because this is their first opportunity to meet so many 9-1-1 public educators from all over and share ideas to take back home and implement within their communities. This conference provided attendees with tons of ways to be creative in their public education program. Keynote speakers Adam Timm and Trooper Bob did an excellent job of sharing their craft and inspiring those present.

Next year will be the 9th annual conference and will be held in Virginia Beach, Virginia July 14-17, 2019 at the Founders Inn. More information will be coming out shortly so make sure to join NPEF (it’s FREE!) so you will stay updated on when registration will begin and more! Visit www.911npef.org to sign up today! You won’t regret it! Below you will find a 2018 wrap up video of this year’s conference- enjoy!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Safety Tips for this Independence Day!

This Fourth of July, we celebrate our nation’s Declaration of independence. Many people choose to celebrate this special holiday by getting together with friends to eat, drink and have fun! There are usually fireworks involved too- which can be lots of fun- if used safely and under supervision of an adult!

Did you know?
Did you know this July 4th is the 242nd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence? How cool is that! It is one of the most celebrated holidays in the nation and many people are lucky enough to get the day off. If you are one of those lucky individuals, what will you choose to do to rejoice in this holiday?
Some people will visit a park or historical site, according to USA.gov. You can find a list of parks near you here: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/event-search.htm. Others will proudly display the American flag in front of their homes and offices. And last, many will participate in local festivities where a huge fireworks display occurs once it gets dark.

It is highly recommended that you attend a festival where you can see professionals put on amazing fireworks displays! But if you want to put on a small fireworks display of your own, please keep the following tips in mind:

o   Make sure where ever you plan on using fireworks that it is legal to use.

o   NEVER let small children play with or set off fireworks. Fireworks are very dangerous and could hurt a child very easily.

o   When setting off fireworks, always make sure you have a safe distance between you and the fireworks when lighting the fuse.

o   Always keep a bucket of water nearby. You never know when you might need to put out a firework that gets out of hand. Plus with as hot as it is in a lot of areas, you want to make sure you are prepared for anything and putting safety first.

o   Do not pick up fireworks that have recently been used. They are most likely still extremely HOT and could burn you.

o   Once a firework has completely burned off, you can then put the fireworks in the bucket of water to soak and cool off.

Want to know more on how to safely dispose of fireworks? Visit this link here: https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-education-centers/fireworks.
Celebrating the 4th of July can be a lot of fun and a great day to spend time with family and friends. Make sure to keep your holiday safe, and if you find yourself in an emergency, do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for help!