Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Holiday Safety Tips from Cell Phone Sally


Holiday safety is important for many reasons- from keeping your family and belongings safe to also keeping your family injury-free throughout the holiday season.
Compiled below is a list of safety issues that will help put your mind at ease if implemented!
Holiday Shopping Safety
·         Keep all doors locked and windows closed when you are away from your vehicle. This will help prevent thieves from easy access to your valuables.
·         Never leave your car unoccupied while it is running. (And as a reminder, don’t leave children unattended in the car either for their safety too)
·         When leaving your vehicle, make sure all valuables are out of sight. If you have to leave something in your car, put it in the trunk.
·         Always remember to wear your seatbelt and practice cautious driving, especially if road conditions are bad.
·         Never drink and drive.
·         If you are involved in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for help.
Fire Safety
·         Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children.
·         Never leave burning candles unattended.
·         Do not burn candles near flammable items.
·         Check and clean the chimney at least once a year.
Tree Safety
·         Decorate the tree with kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top of the tree.
·         Always use a proper step ladder when putting decorations up high.
·         When putting up lights, make sure there are no exposed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
·         “Angel hair” which is mad
e from spun glass, can irritate eyes and skin so always wear gloves to protect yourself from this.
Poison Safety
·         Decorating the home with festive plants around this time of year is very popular. But some of these plants have berries that can be poisonous if enough are ingested. The most common are mistletoe berries, holly berries, poinsettias, and Jerusalem cherry. Please keep these out of reach of children.
·         Did you know if you swallowed a button battery, it could potentially explode in your stomach? If swallowed and undetected, the batteries can do serious damage to the gastrointestinal system. Keep these batteries out of reach of children. And if a child does ingest it, call poison control at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate help. 
·         When playing and spraying artificial snow, make sure not to inhale the contents as it could irritate your lungs.
Travel Safety
·         Use a designate driver when driving to and from holiday parties. And again, never drink and drive.
·         When traveling, make sure everyone buckles up!
·         Keep maintenance on your vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you.
·         Make sure all your doors and windows are locked in the home before leaving.
·         If you have an alarm, make sure to turn it on while you are out of town.
·         Have a neighbor or family member watch your house, pick up your mail and even park in your driveway periodically, if possible.
·         Leave a radio or television on so the house sounds occupied.
·         Make sure expensive items or gifts in your home are not visible through windows or doors.
·         If you have a Christmas tree, make sure it is placed in water or wet sand to keep it fresh.
Whether you stay home this holiday season, or you travel to see loved ones, we hope you all have a safe and jolly time. And remember, if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 for help.

To view some holiday cyber security safety tips, check out this video!


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!

Monday, May 14, 2018

TC SPOTLIGHT BLOG: Miranda Valdez from Coastal Bend Area

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?
 
Hi, my name is Miranda and I am from Corpus Christi Tx. I have worked for Metrocom (Corpus Christi and Nueces County dispatch) for more than seven years and my favorite part of working here is that I love to be directly involved with helping people.
 
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.
  
One time I received a 911 call from a young boy, barely a teenager. He was hiding in his closet with his friend because they believed someone was breaking into the home. He was home alone and could not reach his mother on the phone. After about five minutes, he heard a person messing around in the kitchen. At this point, a coworker was able to contact his mother on the phone. It turns out I was his mother the whole time.
 
3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for 9-1-1?

I believe the most important thing our customers should realize is that, although we will try to help as much as possible, most of the time the people who answer 911 are not trained police officer, fire fighters or EMS.
 
4. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

I enjoy problem solving. Whether it be helping the public or the coworkers, I love to find the answers that can be useful to someone else.
 
5. What do you think is the hardest part about working your job and why?

The hardest part has always been not knowing the ending after the phone call is over.
 
6. Why do you think it is important for people to have 9-1-1 as a resource for emergency help?

911 is the quickest way to local emergency resources. It is easier than learning business numbers for all the surrounding police, fire, and EMS agencies.
 
7. If you could share one piece of advice with the world regarding 9-1-1, what would it be and why?

The best way to help yourself in an emergency is to always know where you are.
 
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?

If I was talking to someone graduating high school, I would tell them that they should, at least for a little while, become a public servant. Any position helping your city, county, state or country is worth a couple years of your life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

It is 9-1-1 Public Education Month and Telecommunicator’s Week During the Month of April!

It is that time of year when 9-1-1 public educators share emergency services information with the public including showing appreciation to their 9-1-1 public safety telecommunicators during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (April 8-14, 2018). But this year is especially unique, because 9-1-1 is also celebrating 50 years of service since the first 9-1-1 call took place.

For those of you who do not know, telecommunicators, also known as call-takers or dispatchers, are individuals who work for an emergency service provider (usually 9-1-1) and are qualified to answer incoming emergency telephone calls and provide for the appropriate emergency response. They work tremendously hard each and every day answering the tough 9-1-1 calls in an effort to get the public the emergency services they need.  
In 1991, Congress recognized telecommunicator’s efforts and created a special week distinguishing who they are and the importance they play in the community. In 2008, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to increase national awareness about the importance and appropriate use of 9-1-1 and created a month solely dedicated to 9-1-1 education. With this, Congress encouraged public awareness events, advertising campaigns, outreach activities and training/education for parents and teachers.

Below are some important messages and current issues that the public should be more aware of so that they can get the most out of 9-1-1 services.

Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t: Many agencies are working hard to make this available across the United States. While some areas have rolled out text to 9-1-1, there are still many areas that do not have text to 9-1-1. If you see a sign or information in your region promoting that you can text to 9-1-1, then you can guarantee it is available. But if you do not, then please assume you can’t text to 9-1-1 and please call 9-1-1 if you need help. Keep in mind that if you do text to 9-1-1 and it is NOT available in your area, you will receive a bounce back message instructing you to please call 9-1-1 for help.   
Know Your Location: Many people have smart phones these days. And on these smart phones we have maps that show us where we are, so it doesn’t seem farfetched to think that if we have GPS in our phone, then 9-1-1 should be able to find us when we call. This is actually not the case. When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone/smart phone, dispatchers are only able to see approximately where you are and not specifically where you are located. As Next Generation 9-1-1 continues to upgrade 9-1-1 capabilities, this will soon change. But for now, please remember to always know your location. Look for mile markers, landmarks, cross streets and addresses on buildings. This information could potentially save lives!

Kari’s Law: A new law that business service users and the public should be aware of is Kari’s Law. This law has to do with providing direct access to 9-1-1 from a multi-user telephone line (MLTS). Prior to Kari’s Law (in Texas, not all states have this law in place), if you tried to dial 9-1-1 from a motel phone or a similar phone where you need to dial 9 or another digit first to get an outside line, you would not always get connected to 9-1-1. Now with Kari’s Law in place, business service users with MLTS phones must have their phones set to be able to dial 9-1-1 directly without dialing an extra digit first. For more info on Kari’s Law visit here. Most recently, President Trump signed into law Kari’s Law at the federal level. You can read more about the federal bill in an article posted here.
Please remember that 9-1-1 is for emergency use only and should never be abused or used for fun. It not only helps save lives, but is an important tool in helping our community get the aid they need. For more information on 9-1-1 education, please visit www.csec.texas.gov.


******** NENA Debuts New Videos for 9-1-1 Education Month **********

Check out this video link thanking 9-1-1 professionals for the hard work they do year-round: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIEQI0-cZdc

Check out this video link highlighting the need for Next Generation 9-1-1 which would enhance the current 9-1-1 system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hprnnA-8d5c

 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

9-1-1 Telecommunicators Spotlight Blog: Lara Bell


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?

Hi, I am Lara B. I have been dispatching off and on since I was 18. I started at my first agency in a very small department that was volunteer and even took a 911 call on the original old red phone. I have been to a few departments since, a lot of training, and I still come back to this line of work. I work for Ingleside Police Dept. and just recently returned back to work from being home with new baby that's now three years old. I had about 31/2 years previously with Ingleside. My passion for working this job is being able to serve in so many ways between emergency personnel and the general public.
 

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

That we matter. We are more than a receptionist.
 
3. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

When I am able to see a whole call through. Knowing that quick action helped saved someone in a time of need.
 
4. What do you think is the hardest part about working your job and why?

Hearing someone tell you their last words to repeat to their family.  That is a lot of weight to carry. When all you can do is be the calm voice for them, which is really hard.
 

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

A generalized number to reach for help. Organized and centralized to your area. It helps lessen confusion on how to obtain help when you need it.
 

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

LOCATION! In an emergency situation, people often forget to give that critical piece of information. Please remember that we need to know where you are to get help to you.
 

7. 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?

There is no other job like it. You get to help on so many different levels. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

9-1-1 Telecommunicators Spot Light Blog: Hilory Verduzco of Aransas County

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 Hilary Verduzco I work for the Aransas County Public Safety Center and I just hit my 3 year mark.  To be honest I didn’t dream of being a dispatcher or a 911 operator I just sort of stumbled upon the job.  I did want to do something in the field of criminal justice and earned a bachelor’s degree so when I was job searching I came across the listing for this position.  I am the type of person who loves to help people in any way possible.  This job fulfills the need of helping people by getting my citizen the answer or helping them find the answer to their problem.   As a dispatcher I get to work with officers, deputies, DPS, fire department, ems, investigators and citizens so having us all work together to help our community is what I love the most.  I love to be challenged and my mind gets  restless when I don’t have something to do, with this job I get to work on a multitude of tasks  which is sometimes stressful but it keeps me on my toes.  All of the challenges and different situations we deal with as dispatchers keeps my passion for 911 alive. 
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.

It’s hard to remember all of the interesting calls or stories that come across dispatch but one of the more recent ones was a child, I’d say about 8, who called 911 and said that he was alone and was scared he didn’t know where his dad was.  He also didn’t know what the exact address of where he was so I proceeded to get any info on his parents so that I could contact them to see what was going on.  He gave his mother’s name and phone number so I called her on our non-emergency line and it turns out she lived in another state! She started to panic and wonder what was going on as well.  I advised her everything was okay we just needed the fathers information now since that was his house.  The mother also told me that the child’s grandmother and cousin also lived with the child’s father so she would try to contact them as well.  While I was gathering all of this information the officer was dispatched to the residence and was attempting to locate the child.  It turns out that the grandmother and another family member was asleep in another room, the child was okay after all.  This is an example of how our emotions go from one end to the other thinking this child was in danger or the parents weren’t watching their children to they were just asleep in another room.  That was one of the few calls where we as dispatchers actually get some closure or learn the outcome of a call. 
3.    What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for 9-1-1?

A lot of people need to know that, for our agency, the people who answer 911 are people just like you, we have lives and families and problems that we are struggling with along with doing our jobs so a small amount of consideration and respect can go a long way with us.  We are a consolidated Communications Center; therefore, we dispatch for multiple agencies and we deal with everything that goes on in our community from funeral escorts to school zone traffic control, from medical emergencies to structure fires, from after-hours water payments to cows in the roadway and everything in between.  We are not “All Knowing” we cannot make an officer appear in front of you within seconds and we cannot read minds.  We try to do things as fast and accurate most importantly as safely as possible for everyone involved so bear with us. 
4.    Why do you think it is important for people to have 9-1-1 as a resource for emergency help?

911 is an important resource to have for emergencies.   911 is the easiest number to remember and hopefully it is instilled in most of our brains by now.  Any phone in or out of service is able to dial 911 so anyone and everyone can reach help if needed.  911 is a great resource when you are alone, for me this is the most important time for 911.  Since there is no one else around to help you with whatever you are going through, it allows you to get the help you need. 
5.    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?

If you are looking into a career as a Telecommunications Operator, you want to help people and are good at multi-tasking and do well under pressure, then this is the job for you.  There are plenty of opportunities to see how it all works through sit-ins or doing a ride-along.  I really wanted to help people and I was very interested in criminal justice but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a police officer.  I looked at different career paths like a case worker for child support, although there is a need for caseworkers to look into children’s situations and their job is so very important, it just didn’t stick.  Another option I thought of was a Juvenile probation officer, at the time of my job search there weren’t too many openings in my area.  When I came across the dispatcher position I ended up loving it its exciting and challenging, you will not be bored and first responders are always needed!