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NENA Member Spotlight: Maria Lemonds, ENP

Thursday, January 22, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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This special feature highlights 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….

Maria Lemonds: My name is Maria Lemonds and I have been dispatching with Collin County Sheriff Office for 15 yrs. I moved to TX 22yrs ago after I got married to my husband. I was a nurse for 7 yrs before I decided this wasn’t for me. A friend suggested trying to become a dispatcher so I applied at Collin County and shortly after I started work. 

When I first started I was overwhelmed by all the equipment, phones, radios, computers and the maps. After working 6 yrs I put in for Supervisor position and have been a Shift Supervisor since. At which time I also became a NENA member. Over the last 4 yrs I have been able to become a more active member by helping on the Texas NENA Conference Committees. I started out on the Gifts Committee and this past year was happy to be co-chair for sessions which is where I seem to have truly found my passion. I took the ENP test and was happy to pass it, during the conference call study sessions I learned a lot about the behind the scenes stuff. How the call gets where it needs to go how many people are actually involved in this process. How the radio’s work (and don’t work) and why. And what could possibly be coming in the future. At times I truly thought my head was going to explode, from all the information I was getting.

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

ML: 9-1-1 has become more than just a job to me it is my passion. I truly believe in helping people and as a 9-1-1 dispatcher we are the first person that anyone speaks to on their worst day. We are the voice that calms the storm, we are to caring voice getting help on the way for that elderly person who did not want to be a burden but is having chest pains. We are the voice to officers and fire fighters who are out on scene and needing that calming voice to get them through the call and get their mind off the horror they might be seeing.

NENA: What do you like best about your job?

ML: I have found another passion during my time under the headset and that is becoming a trainer. I enjoy teaching the public about 9-1-1 but I have also found great pleasure in being able to pass on my knowledge of the job. I started as a training officer at the Sheriff’s office and then was asked if I would like to help talk about 9-1-1 with the public in the schools and events like National Night Out. That progressed to talking to our Citizens Academy about 9-1-1 and what our job in dispatch is. Then I became a Associate trainer for TCIC/NCIC, and TCOLE, and must say I truly enjoy talking to new and seasoned dispatchers who come to classes.

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

ML: One call I am proud of is, we had gotten a call from a very upset husband whose wife had called him and told him she intended to commit suicide. She had left the house and city prior to calling her husband. We got her cell phone number what type of vehicle she was driving and got everyone on their way. I started calling cell phone company to ping the phone and get a location. Once we got the location which was in Oklahoma near the Choctaw Casino, I had already sent out Region one TTY with a description of the vehicle and female. I then called Durant OK dispatch to have them check the area. Two hours after we got the call, the whole time the Melissa PD officers were with the husband listening to the female as the overdose of medications started to take their toll. The Durant Ok officers finally found her and got her to the hospital I am told in just the nick of time. Our Melissa PD officers tell me I went above and beyond that night and all I can think is thank god the Durant PD officers found her in time.

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?

ML: My one message to the public would be, Don’t rely on technology!!! We still need to know where to send help when you call 9-1-1. Know your location, especially on road trips when you really don’t know what the names of streets are be vigilant know your location. Pocket dialing is a MAJOR problem, please lock your keypads and put your phone where the emergency button cannot get pushed by accident.

On being a 9-1-1 Professional – I strive to do my very best every day to help to those who need it, I am an ear for others to just talk when they feel lonely, I am the voice telling them where to go for the next emergency call, I am the calming voice for the small child whose parents are fighting again and who is hiding in a closet until officers arrive. I AM A 9-1-1 DISPATCHER.