By Audrey Fraizer
Letisha Ghanbari is a shoe-in for emergency dispatch if she could possibly be as calm under a headset talking to an anxious caller as she appears on stage under the spotlight standing in front of more than 1,000 people.
And, truth be told, she is an Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD), and it is her cool and composed bearing in combination with her dedication to the profession and proficiency with protocol that brought her to the NAVIGATOR 2016 stage to accept the IAED Dispatcher of the Year Award.
“She has a customer-centered approach and is a protocol expert,” said IAED Associate Director Carlynn Page, who presented the award. “She has a commitment to excellence.”
In addition to the technical prerequisites of the nomination, such as high compliance and a teamwork approach to her work, Ghanbari is also a quick study and an apparent natural to the profession. She started with OnStar Corporation in sales where she was soon pegged as a potential emergency call adviser.
“My manager said I should try for communications, but I hesitated,” she said. “I didn’t think I could do it, but by day two after I was hired, I knew this was where I should be.”
For the last five years, Ghanbari has been answering emergency calls from the OnStar Communication Center in Warren, Mich., and during the past year, she has been the lucky recipient of two calls announcing the imminent arrivals of two babies.
The audio version of the call submitted as part of her nomination came at the start and, most likely, the end of a family camping trip. The mom, who was 33 weeks pregnant, was in the cab of the camper with a baby that was coming feet first in a breech position.
“She didn’t have any contractions,” Ghanbari said. “All they could do was pull over to the side of the road to call for help.”
Or, in the case of the OnStar system, the caller pressed the vehicle’s red emergency button to connect to an EMD with a request for assistance. While the caller followed PAIs for breech delivery, a police car arrived and, as Ghanbari was told later, the story ended happily. Mom and baby were doing well.
The not knowing or waiting to later until, maybe, learning the outcome represents one of the greatest challenges to her job satisfaction.
“The hardest part is not knowing what happens,” Ghanbari said. “I do know that the baby survived, but that’s generally not something we find out.”
The second baby call within the year lasted eight minutes, which is the time that it took for a father to deliver his daughter’s baby on a thwarted trip to the hospital.
While the unknown, emotional demands, and constant multitasking can prove precursors to stress and a short tenure in the communication center, Ghanbari thrives on the unique characteristics of emergency communications. She likes being right in the line of customer service. She derives satisfaction from helping people during an emergency and is grateful for the built-in support system of co-workers.
“We have a really great team,” she said. “When something brings you down, there is always someone to help pick you back up. It’s an amazing place to work, and, really, the award goes to all of us. All advisers are excellent in what they do.”
Charlene Poranganel, who manages emergency call services for all General Motors OnStar subscribers in North America, said Ghanbari moves the excellence factor forward.
“Letisha is very deserving of this award because of what she does and who she is,” Poranganel said. “She has the heart of a motivator. She brings spirit to our team.”
OnStar has been a medical ACE since 2013 and in 2016 achieved its first recertification.