NENA News, Press, & Stories...: Home Page

National 9-1-1 Leaders Hold Conference to Address Critical Public Safety Issues

Thursday, July 2, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
Share |

Heroes and Leaders Honored; Charity 5K Attracts Local Celebrities

On any given day, America’s 9-1-1 call takers answer an estimated 600,000 calls, all requiring extraordinary attention and composure. Since the nation’s 9-1-1 services are run almost entirely by local and regional governments, there is a constant need for those involved to work together to keep up with advancing technology, education and training, and governance issues.

More than 2,000 people who lead, staff, and support America’s 9-1-1 system gathered in Denver on June 27 – July 2 for the National Emergency Number Association’s (NENA) Annual Conference & Expo. The conference agenda focused on critical public safety issues including text-to-9-1-1, better locating 9-1-1 callers, and the ongoing transition to more powerful digital and multimedia technologies.

Significant Progress Noted on Next Generation 9-1-1, Text-to-9-1-1, & Caller Location

NENA leaders and experts from across the country spoke about the achievements made in 2015, with early adopters from numerous states and regions sharing the experiences with implementing Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1). NG9-1-1 not only provides the capability to accept 9-1-1 text and multimedia messaging, but also enhances call routing and handling. In addition, NG9-1-1 allows for communications and data transfers across county, state, and international borders, and provides for interconnection and seamless information sharing between 9-1-1 centers, first responders, poison control centers, trauma centers, and other emergency response entities.

Additional discussion focused on the continued spread of text-to-9-1-1 capabilities across the country, with FCC and 9-1-1 representatives urging rapid adoption. "Text-to-9-1-1, where available, has already proven to be a life-saving tool for 9-1-1 call takers,” said NENA President, Christy Williams. "By sharing experiences with text and building awareness of its importance, we hope that our conference attendees will be energized to go home and lead the charge to introduce text into all 9-1-1 centers nationwide.”

The move towards implementing better caller location technologies also drew significant attention at the event. Advances in public policy and technology will soon enable 9-1-1 professionals to identify the exact, dispatchable location of consumers who call 9-1-1 from wireless devices, even when calls are placed indoors. With an emphasis on identifying a caller’s physical address, these advances will enable public safety professionals to serve the public with greater speed, accuracy, and efficiency than ever before. "In many areas, 80% or more of 9-1-1 calls are coming from cell phones. Thanks to the collaborative efforts between the wireless carriers and the public safety community, we’re working to ensure that 9-1-1 callers can be quickly and accurately located regardless of whether they are calling from a Denver high-rise or a hiking trail in Rocky Mountain National Park,” Williams said.

Awards Recognize Heroic & Dedicated Service

During the conference, 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 Lifetime Achievement Award, to Delaine Arnold. Arnold has been a member of NENA since 1989, and served on the Data Technical Committee and NENA Institute Board, while also providing voluntary administrative support to the Next Generation Partner Program and NG9-1-1 Industry Collaboration Event program steering and planning committees.

"Delaine represents the best of NENA and what it’s all about,” said Renee Hardwicke, First Vice President of NENA, when presenting the award. "She is tireless in her efforts to make 9-1-1 all it can be,” added Barbara Thornburg, who received the award herself in 2002.

"Delaine understands that the true value of teamwork is getting things done through cooperation,” said Bob Gojanovich, 2003 Stanton Award recipient. "She is a shining example of someone who contributes to 9-1-1 success everyday.”

Other awardees included:

· Volunteer of the Year Steve McMurrer of the Fairfax, VA Department of Public Safety Communications, for his participation, contribution, and leadership in NENA’s activities,

· 9-1-1 Champion Rear Admiral David Simpson of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, for leading efforts to enable 9-1-1 communications that are accessible, reliable, resilient and secure, and

· 9-1-1 Advocate Mark Fletcher from Avaya, for his campaign to enact Kari’s Law, requiring hotels and motels to ensure that guests have direct-dial access to 9-1-1.

New Board Installed as Association Celebrates Milestones & Achievements

NENA President Williams, who was sworn in for a 2nd term as president at the conference, reported on the association’s record-setting membership growth over the past year, as well as the ongoing effort to develop long-term strategic plan that will guide NENA in the years to come. "When our goals are aligned with our resources, we can move forward on many fronts more efficiently and effectively. This fall, we will finalize and categorize measurable goals and deliverables that will propel NENA forward into 2016 and beyond,” Williams said.

Williams also highlighted the association’s continuing commitment to working with government and industry to facilitate NG9-1-1 adoption, spread text-to-9-1-1, improve location accuracy, and improve 9-1-1 access via Multi-Line Telephone Systems.

Nine others were sworn in to office at NENA 2015, with Rob McMullen assuming the role of Second Vice President of NENA. McMullen has 15 years of experience in 9-1-1 and is the current Executive Director of Vigo County 9-1-1 in Indiana. He served as the NENA North Central Region Director from 2013-2015 and was the Indiana NENA President in 2008. McMullen will ascend to the position of association president in 2017.

The 2015-2016 NENA Executive Board also includes: First Vice President Renee Hardwick, Past President Bernard Brown, Northeastern Region Director Ed Marecki, North Central Region Director Bob Currier, Southeastern Region Director Linda Draughn-Woloski, Western Region Director Lisa Hoffmann, Canadian Region Director Nancy Banks, and Private Sector Director Ron Bloom.

"Friends of 9-1-1” Charity 5K Kicks Off Conference

The second-annual Friends of 9-1-1 "Run for 9-1-1” 5K run/walk kicked off the conference, with more than 300 participants raising funds for education, training, and wellness programs for 9-1-1 professionals. Celebrity Bachelorette couple Trista and Ryan Sutter ran the race, showing support for the cause and thanking 9-1-1 dispatchers for the hard work they do every day.

Friends of 9-1-1 also awarded four emergency call takers across the country with the Friends of 9-1-1 Telecommunicator Continuing Education Scholarship. These recipients were recognized at the conference for their dedication and outstanding performance as call takers.

Inspirational Keynote Speakers

The conference featured keynote remarks from three inspiring speakers: Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken, former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, and award-winning motivator Mike McKinley. These speakers shared their personal stories of perseverance, teamwork, and leadership with attendees, as well as thanking them for their hard work and efforts that help save lives every day. As Amy Van Dyken best put it, "Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?”