Jessica Lindley was 8 years old the afternoon her older sister fell into the family’s backyard pool. Their mom was busy inside the house, not realizing the gate to the pool was open. Lindley’s sister did not know how to swim.
Minutes later, Lindley alerted her mother. They ran outside. Lindley pulled her sister, who had a cognitive disability, out of the pool while their mom called 911.
“He [the dispatcher] kept my mom calm so she could follow his CPR instructions,” said Lindley, who is already certified in ETC, EMD, EPD, and EFD despite having received her high school diploma in May 2018. “I wanted to be able to do that for someone someday. I wanted to know that I helped even when the result isn’t what you had hoped.”
Lindley was one of several IAED-certified emergency dispatchers from Veterans Tribute Career & Technical Academy (VTCTA) volunteering at NAVIGATOR 2018. VTCTA faculty member Lori Henricksen, EMD, EFD, ETC-I, teaches the two-year course that, in 2016, was the Region V winner of the Nevada Innovative Career and Technical Education award.
Henricksen was in dispatch for 14 years with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and in 2009, she created the VTCTA telecommunications program from scratch. Students spend time in the classroom and in the VTCTA communication center replicated lab practicing on simulated calls from all three disciplines (EFD, EMD, and EPD) using ProQA®.
The program has been a success. Henricksen’s curriculum is the state standard for Nevada public schools, and program graduates work throughout the state’s dispatch system, including the Nevada Highway Patrol, air ambulance, and fire and police 911 centers. College and the military are also high on the list for graduates.
While Lindley begins college in the fall, she also intends to focus on a degree that allows her to further a career in emergency dispatch. Fellow graduate Estrella Hoskinson, ETC, EMD, EFD, plans to apply for a fire dispatch job, and Miguel Contreras, ETC, EMD, EPD, was gratified to learn how much he cares about helping people.
Henricksen said students learning more about themselves and about what they’re getting into fuels her enthusiasm for teaching a program in the profession she loves.
“Dispatch is an amazing profession,” she said. “There’s something new every day. You’re helping people, and it’s a challenge. It’s my hope that my students share the same passion and excitement once they go on to their careers.”