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9-1-1 Leaders Tackle Pressing Public Safety Issues in Annual Conference and Expo

Wednesday, June 25, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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Heroes and Leaders Are Honored; Education, Training, and Public-Private Partnerships Are Fostered; Nashville Celebrities Drop By and Praise 9-1-1’s "Unsung Heroes”

Federal policy pronouncements, awards for heroic and dedicated emergency service, renewed and expanded corporate leadership, and hundreds of hours of meaningful dialogue and training were among the highlights of the National Emergency Number Association’s (NENA’s) Annual Conference & Expo, held June 14-19 in Nashville.

Nearly 2,000 people who lead and staff America’s 9-1-1 systems came together with an agenda focused on key public safety issues, such as text- to-9-1-1, wireless location accuracy, cybersecurity, and the ongoing transition to more capable IP- and broadband-powered technologies.

America’s 9-1-1 call takers answer an estimated 600,000 calls per day, with at least two-thirds of those coming from wireless phones. Since the nation’s 9-1-1 services are run almost entirely by local and regional governments, there is a constant need for all stakeholders to work together to keep up with advancing technology, education and training, and governance issues.

Feds Making Progress on Options to Deter Nuisance Calls to 9-1-1

On Tuesday, a senior official at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said the agency is making progress on the issue of 9-1-1 calls from "non-subscriber-initialized” phones – those not subscribed to any particular carrier or attached to an existing customer or service plan. The FCC requires that wireless phone companies permit 9-1-1 dialing fromanywireless phone, so that people in trouble can always call for help.However, in recent years, the number of non-subscribed phones has grown in tandem with the total number of cell phones, and so have nuisance calls to 9-1-1. Many parents give old handsets to their children to play with, and others use unsubscribed phones to commit crimes or harass public safety agencies. FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief David Simpson told the 9-1-1 leaders that his staff is working on options for regulatory action, and he hopes to bring them before the FCC commissioners for consideration this summer.

Simpson also shared his thoughts on text-to-9-1-1; cybersecurity concerns; and the transition from traditional circuit-switched telephone technologies to Internet Protocol-based networks. "When it comes to 9-1-1,” he said, "96 percent is not an ‘A’. As call centers move into the IP world, they face new opportunities but also new challenges. NENA has played a valuable leadership role in addressing these issues.”

Awards and Speakers Recognize Heroic and Dedicated Service

In another conference highlight, a number of individuals were recognized for their heroism and dedication to 9-1-1 excellence. NENA presented its most prestigious award, the William E. Stanton Award, to Mary Boyd, a former president of NENA and current Vice President for External Affairs at Intrado, for her 30-plus years of service to NENA. Boyd was among the earliest leaders of NENA in the 1980s and has served in many key roles since then.

"In my nearly 40 years of public safety service, I know of no individual that has done more to serve 9-1-1 and NENA throughout her long and distinguished professional career than Mary Boyd,” said another NENA past president, Bill Hinkle, as he presented Ms. Boyd with the award. "Whether serving the association in the public sector or during her years at Intrado, through her unwavering dedication she has never stopped being a champion for NENA and public safety communications. She exemplifies the very essence of the qualities and attributes the [Stanton Award] represents.”

"Mary is truly the First Lady of NENA,” added then-NENA President Bernard Brown. "I cannot think of a more deserving honoree. Everyone who works in public safety and every caller who reaches out to 9-1-1 in a moment of crisis owes Mary a debt of gratitude; her drive, tenacity, energy, and extraordinary commitment to improving emergency communications have undoubtedly made 9-1-1 better and America a safer place.”

Other awardees included:

Terri Brooks of Summit County 9-1-1 in Park City, Utah was recognized by 9-1-1 Cares for saving a man who shot himself in a remote area of Utah and was able to call 9-1-1 but had no idea where he was. Brooks stayed on the line for 41 minutes and helped the man control the bleeding while coordinating search efforts.

Richard Frankish of the Mt. Juliet Police in Tennessee was recognized by 9-1-1 Cares for protecting a police officer’s life by taking numerous calls from the public and coordinating allied emergency response during an officer-ambush situation.

Amanda Miller of Hamilton County 9-1-1 in Tennessee was recognized with the Dispatcher Hero award from 9-1-1 FOR KIDS, for her role in protecting two young sisters during a home invasion. Older sister Bre-Asia Marrow was recognized with the Youth Hero award from 9-1-1 FOR KIDS. The dramatic story was covered on Good Morning America.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children recognized the following eight 9-1-1 centers for completing the Missing Kids Readiness Project, thereby demonstrating preparedness for responding to a missing child incident: Hardin County Emergency Communications District, Tennessee; Lake Oswego Communications, Oregon; Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center in South Carolina; Hamilton County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District, Tennessee; Dickson County E-9-1-1 Center, Tennessee; Henderson County 9-1-1, Tennessee; Hawkins County E-9-1-1, Tennessee; and Ogle County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 Center in Illinois.

New Achievements for "Friends of 9-1-1”

The conference was also noteworthy for several strides made by "Friends of 9-1-1,” an initiative that raises funds for education, training, and wellness programs for 9-1-1 professionals:

Scholarships: Five emergency call takers from across the country received the first-ever Friends of 9-1-1 Telecommunicator Continuing Education Scholarships.


Support from Shell: Shell Pipeline presented a check for $5,000 to support future Friends of 9-1-1 programs. The company also presented the autographed trunk lid from Team Penske’s No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion, driven by Joey Logano, which carried a "Friends of 9-1-1” decal during a NASCAR race on March 2.

First 5k run/walk: The first-ever Friends of 9-1-1 "Run for 9-1-1” 5k run/walk was held in downtown Nashville on June 14, with more than 300 friends participating and raising funds for the cause. Tennessee Titans players Maikon Bonai and Beau Brinkley showed up to lend their support.