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NENA Member Spotlight: Anthony Summers, Assistant Director, West Baton Rouge OHS

Tuesday, March 4, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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This new special feature will highlight individual NENA Members from various backgrounds, industry segments, experience and geographic locations. It offers members an opportunity to share their story with their colleagues and the greater NENA community. Click here to email NENA Member Services Director Bri Robinson if we should feature you or someone you know.

NENA: Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, what you do, and your history with NENA….

Anthony Summers: My name is Anthony Summers. I am Assistant Director for the West Baton Rouge Office Of Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness and 9-1-1 in Port Allen, Louisiana. My office is responsible for providing emergency management and emergency telecommunication services for West Baton Rouge parish.

West Baton Rouge parish is located accross the Mississippi River from Louisiana's captial city of Baton Rouge. We answer all emergency calls for the parish and dispatch for all six of the parish fire departments. Last year we answered approximately 32,000 9-1-1 calls and dispatched 11,000 actual emergency calls.

Our PSAP serves 24,000 residents along with high daily transient population that commute to the 22 major industrial facilities that the parish is home to. In addition we serve the needs of people that travel through our parish along Interstate 10, US Highway 190 and the other major state highways that bisect it. We also receive emergency calls from maritime vessels traversing the Mississippi River and Intra-coastal waterway.  In addition to receiving calls from the public for emergencies our center also answers after-hours calls for four public utilities and the parish animal control center.  Our main staff includes myself along with our director, 10 telecommunicators, a telecommunicator coordinator who helps to supervise operations, along with an IT support technician and administrative assistant.

I have been a member of the Louisiana Chapters of NENA and APCO since 1998.  I have served as the president of the Louisiana Chapter of NENA along with helping with our annual symposium committee in recent years. I also currently sit on the membership committee of national NENA. 

NENA: What does 9-1-1 mean to you?

AS: 9-1-1 to me is a number that allows a conduit for the public to speak to the first, first responders to report emergencies and receive help in a timely manner. I arrived at this meaning because In addition to being the Asssistant Director of our organization I have been a volunteer Firefighter \EMT with the Port Allen Fire Department for the last 17 years. I have responded to numerous emergencies throughout my career as a Firefighter \EMT . I have seen firsthand the diffrence that being able to get help rapidly makes in being able to save lives and protect property.

NENA: Why did you choose a career in public safety?

AS: I choose a career in public safety because it was a career that appealed to my sense of service that was instilled in me by my father who was a reserve sheriff’s deputy when I was young child. My career in public safety began as a junior volunteer firefighter in high school and then I became a full-fledged volunteer when I graduated high school. I then worked my way into to the position I hold now starting off as a volunteer ham radio operator.

NENA: What do you like best about your job?

AS: The best thing that I like about my job is enabling my employees to serve the public by giving them the best tools and technology to be able to do so.

NENA: Is there a particular event or call that you are particularly proud of?

AS: One of the events that stands out the most to me in my career is when we moved into our current communications center in October 2009. This was accomplished after almost a decade of working with my former boss to accomplish the goal of centralizing our parishes three PSAP’s that were within two block of each other into one. Accomplishing this task required that many hurdles including politics, money, and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike be overcome. This event was one of the events in my career that makes me the proudest because of the countless number of lives that we have saved through the efficiencies realized by the centralization of public safety telecommunications in our small parish.

NENA: If you could convey one message to the public about 9-1-1 or being a 9-1-1 professional, what would it be?

AS: The one message that I would like to convey to the public as a 9-1-1 professional is to always know where you are, know how to call 9-1-1 and know when calling 9-1-1 is appropriate.