Golden Headset Award Entries

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Entry #1 Shantelle

On Friday, September 3, 2021, Shantelle took a 9-1-1 call from a subject who indicated that he was feeling suicidal and wanted to talk to someone while he drove. She attempted several times over the 5-minute call to ascertain his location or cross-street in an effort to send him help. He shared that he had an “open case” and didn’t want the police involved. She told him that you would send him paramedics only so he could get help. He refused to pull over and became agitated with the questions about his location. Shantelle offered to give him directions to a closer hospital and he again refused and hung up even when she offered to just talk about anything he wanted to talk about.

After he disconnected, Shantelle attempted to call him back numerous times but he would not answer. She reached out to the cell phone company to try and obtain the location of his cell phone but the phone company could not provide a close proximity location. She then utilized her additional resources of Rapid Deploy to send him text messages attempting to get him to reconnect with her. Although it seemed as if she had exhausted all possible options, Shantelle showed perseverance and continued to
call him back.

Thirty-six minutes after his initial call, he finally answered her call and shared with you that he was in Ontario and on the way to the hospital. Over the next 18 minutes, she stayed on the phone with him chatting about his family, his kids, and his faith. Shantelle showed amazing compassion for a man who so clearly was in his darkest time of need. Near the end of the call, he shared with her that it was her phone calls and texts that saved his life; that she was the reason he was seeking help.

He told her that initially he was irritated that she kept calling, but because she wouldn’t give up, he pushed through to reach out for help. About 30 minutes later, the subject called from the hospital to let Shantelle know he had safely made it and to say “Thank You!” Shantelle’s compassion during this call is to be highly commended. She was professional, empathetic, and patient beyond the call of duty. She persevered when it seemed that all options had been exhausted. Shantelle’s professionalism in the handling of this call was also recognized by her peers and was a great example for her trainee.

Entry #2 Jake

I thought Jake was the perfect dispatcher when I started with my agency (almost 7 years ago). At that time he handled every call with care, he was a perfect CTO, and he consistently made correct fast rational decisions. He was someone I greatly admired as a new dispatcher.

Since then, I’ve watched him become a Dad 3 times. I’ve watched him mentor his peers. I’ve watched him master TERT deployments. I’ve watched him become passionate about tactical dispatching. Also, I’ve watched him take some of the hardest calls. He has handled every single call with ease and compassion.

Recently he took a homicide call where a male shot his girlfriend. He gathered all the details and then build a rapport with the caller/suspect. When Deputies arrived the caller was sitting outside, with his hands in the air, the weapon secured, and still on speakerphone with Jake. This is an amazing example of his skill level.

Every day he comes to work to be better than the day before. This still amazes me, because I thought he was perfect when I met him years ago.

Entry #3 Abby

TC Abby is a frontline telecommunciator. She works a 4 and 2 rotation and is assigned to the regional room. She is also a Communications Training Officer and is frequently assigned new hires to train. Abby also is a certified APCO Agency Instructor and
teaches APCO Public Safety Telecommunicator. In addition to all of that, she also teaches our in-house programs of Non-Emergency Call Taking, Emergency Call Taking, Police & Fire Basic, Geography, and our CAD Lab Class. Abby also edits our monthly newsletter.TC Abby began her career with us in December 2017. She was completely green to the field and had no prior experience. She worked in a casino for 10 years prior while she was going through college. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in teaching and her associate’s degree in Emergency Medical Technology.Abby is the definition of a team player, “a person who plays or works well as a member of a team or group” Abby thrives in a team environment. In our center, we work in a “pod” environment. We have two police pod mates handling 5 channels and two fire pod mates handling 5 channels. Each pod must work together and assist each other depending on where the volume is. Abby is always listening to her pod mates’ channels to assist when needed, she runs plates to make sure she has the info if her partner needs help with something, and she has the fire coverage sheets ready in case she has to jump in and assist, she is always ready and willing. It should also be noted that she knows when to step in and up and when to step back. Many dispatchers are “type A” personalities and want to do everything themselves so grabbing a radio when someone doesn’t need it isn’t what teamwork is about. Abby is able to read the room and her partner and step in when needed without stepping on toes. TC Abby goes above and beyond but gives her all to training. Currently, CTOs do not receive any additional compensation at our agency. This is a contract issue, but nevertheless, there is nothing additional for trainers. Abby pours her heart and soul into training. She is always updating old PowerPoints to refresh them, thinking of more productive ways to train people, making sure trainees understand the WHY of what they are doing, and always stepping up. With no extra compensation for training, Abby could easily say “NO” to training and teaching and instead just work the desk and do her normal duties, but she knows it is for the betterment of the agency.

Abby is a role model in her continued preservice through our ups and downs. As with every center staffing issues come in ebbs and flows. Abby has been with us through our highs and lows and always keeps the mission in mind. She never lets a staffing crunch take away the quality of her training or work. Abby has a drive to always improve herself and was recently selected by our agency to attend the NENA CMCP.

Abby lives and breathes training. She sets clear expectations from the beginning and her motto is never to “just fill a seat” but to create a teammate. The DORs Abby writes are thoughtful, concise, and
honest. She gives measurable performance standards and detailed descriptions of what happened during the shift. As the training coordinator, I look forward to reading her DORs. She never sugarcoats anything and is always stern but fair with trainees. When giving feedback she tries to always explain the WHY. Why the responders need certain information, WHY the call comments need to paint the picture, WHY the information has to be given back faster. She understands with her teaching background explaining the WHY helps trainees to better understand and take action.

On a daily level, TC Abby is a role model just from her every action. While she was call-taking with a new employee TC Abby did an excellent job splitting her attention between training the new hire and aiding the fire pod that had started to get busy. She effortlessly answered radios when he was tied up and assisted him in entering calls while he was talking to units on the radio. It was a great job setting an example for the new hires of true comrades and an awesome job of facilitating a cohesive team. TC Abby came to us as a new dispatcher with no prior experience. She fully invested herself in training and gave it 110%. She was always eager to learn, ask questions, and put in full effort. Once she was out of training she continued to be a “shining star”. She went above and beyond on every call and was always a teammate to be counted on. After 2 years of being on her own, she became a CTO. As a CTO she is tough when needed and nurturing when she has to be. She trains people to be the co-worker you want as a teammate. Abby also has a degree in teaching so she understands the ins and outs of what is important. Abby has been great for the training program as well. She has helped develop new quizzes and task list materials, updated the training manual, and our in-house classes.

In 2021 Abby became an APCO agency instructor and now teaches APCO PST. Abby also teaches our in-house classes; Police & Fire, Call Taking, Geography, and our CAD Lab. Abby is also great in the community. She lives in one of the communities that we dispatch for and she always is involved. In 2021 she served as a judge on one of their Chili Cook-Off competitions.

Entry #4 June

June has been with us for just over 1 year. As soon as June tested out of training last summer, she had an immediate impact on shift. Each day June is in a great mood, she always speaks positively and avoids negativity and drama. June voluntarily picks up more overtime than any other employee in our entire division. June picked up over 41 overtime shifts in just the first six months since testing out of training and has not experienced any noticeable negative effects such as burnout or emotional fatigue. June is mature, kind, accepts feedback very well, and works harder than any employee that’s come through our doors in a very long time.

Although some people struggle to function in a team environment and/or carry a heavy workload, that is not the case for June. June adapts well to our changing environment without frustration or concern. Our shift works better as “one team” having June with us, she jumps in to help dispatch, call take, make notifications, or any other task that needs to be done. She is such a valuable asset to my shift, I would give up a part of my own salary if it meant I could keep June on my shift forever!! Although some people may not consider picking up overtime as “going above and beyond” after struggling with staffing for several years now, most of our employees are feeling the effects of burnout and are definitely not excited to pick up overtime. So today, with the staffing shortage and other crises we are going through, it does seem to me that picking up overtime regularly so that your peers do not get forced over seems like going above and beyond. June is very deserving of this award and much more, I am honored to have her on my team!