Here at the Academy, we spend months preparing to put on a memorable, educational, enjoyable NAVIGATOR conference each year. We expend a great deal of time, energy, and resources to ensure it’s a worthwhile week for you.
In years past, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NTW) preceded. NTW gives special acknowledgement and appreciation to dispatchers and calltakers everywhere for their dedicated efforts as the first, first responders. It has been the perfect way to get ready for our annual conference. This year, however, NAVIGATOR was held a couple of weeks earlier than usual, placing it at the same time as NTW. This created some challenges on our end, as we tried to give appropriate recognition to each. It was also a unique experience to celebrate both important occasions simultaneously.
While a portion of our staff headed to New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, for NAVIGATOR, April 12–14, others remained behind to take care of other duties. I had the pleasure of promoting NTW on social media, and it was enjoyable to see how centers in the U.S. recognized the week.
Followers of our Facebook page sent us photos of themselves and their co-workers dressing up as superheroes or in crazy outfits. Others provided pictures of comm. center employees eating meals together that local restaurants or stores had provided during the week. It was obvious that you take NTW seriously and that you’re all part of a large group of like-minded, hard-working professionals.
My favorite part of promoting NTW on social media was when I posed this open-ended question: “How do you encourage someone to overcome the stress of the job and find success?” I asked our followers to tell everyone what advice they would give a struggling dispatcher/calltaker. The response was fantastic, and everyone who participated gave excellent advice. Here are some of the most insightful words of wisdom:
“Each call that we take changes a life. When a caller dials 911 it begins a chain of events that in large part is controlled by you. That call creates a ripple effect. The size of that effect is determined by you. You determine when to send a unit non-emergency or to send a battalion emergency. That is a huge responsibility. Not everyone can handle that responsibility. This is a special skill not everyone is built to do, but if you are you must find it in yourself to pick up the line and answer that call.”
— Patty Fernandez Andres
“Don’t give up. The task of learning this job seems insurmountable, but it isn’t. Take full advantage of the time you have with your trainer and learn as much as you can from them; take the best of each dispatcher you train with and put those pieces together to be the best you can be. Most importantly, remember that we are all here for you!”
- Dawn Michele
“You will have good days and bad days—days that you feel on top of the world because you know you saved a life, and days when you just wish you could go through the phone and do something to make a difference. We all have the days when the only thing that helps is just being there, and sometimes it is just to listen and offer words of encouragement. But never doubt for one second you are not doing enough or you are not making a difference, because you are.”
- Lisa Howard
That was just a small sample of the wonderful responses we received during NTW. It is a pleasure to be involved in a small way in this profession and to hear so many inspiring stories and examples of devotion and heroism.