NENA Member Spotlight: Kevin Humphreys
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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….
: My name is Kevin J. Humphreys, I am 27, from Grand Blanc, MI. I have been
a dispatcher for 5 years now, 4 of which at my current department. I work for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Pontiac, MI as a Dispatch Specialist. I have always had a passion for helping in the community, which is evident in my time with the National Ski Patrol (netting about 500 hours of community service in 3 years), and my Eagle Scout award from the Boy Scouts of America.
I have always wanted to be a cop from as far back as I can remember, when I was a tot. That is, until I became a dispatcher. I absolutely love this job. I love the technology that I have access to daily, I love being able to make a difference in lives every single day. Many call this a job, I call it a career from which I can see myself retiring.
I have been a member of NENA for about two years now. The first year’s membership was paid for by my union, who paid for 6 dispatchers to become members on a trial basis to see if there was a benefit. After that first year, they did not see any benefits, and decided to only fund one position. I knew this was something worthwhile, and decided to self-fund myself as a member in both NENA and APCO.
I had the honor of my agency sending me to my first chapter conference, the Michigan NENA Annual Conference, in 2014. There, the keynote speaker was, what I perceived to be, a superstar in the 9-1-1 field. Director of Communications for the New York Fire Department. WOW! THE director of FDNY! Chris Carver was an amazing speaker, with amazing stories, and someone that I immediately looked up to. I saw his involvement and passion in this career path, and I found myself imagining if I could go that far.
Fast forward to my first NENA National Conference this year, and I am sold. NENA is my organization. It has provided me with opportunities to network with so many other 9-1-1 dispatchers, managers, venders, and many more. It has opened up possibilities to not only be involved with 9-1-1 on a local and county level, but on a NATIONWIDE level! How cool is that?!
NENA: What does 9-1-1 mean to you?
KH: As I mentioned above, 9-1-1 has started to mean more to me than I ever thought possible. When I first started as a 9-1-1 operator, I just pictured myself as basically a glorified calltaker. I know now how far from the truth that is. 9-1-1 is not a number that people call because they are having the greatest day of their lives. They often call us when they are having the worst day of their lives. It can get depressing and can wear you down listening to all of that negativity day in and day out. But, usually when you start to get near the bottom, you take that call that reminds you why it is we do this job. You take the successful child birth call, as my partner Lisa Ludwig did not too long ago. You take that suicidal that you are able to make a connection with, and they live and go on to better their lives. You take that call from someone who is old enough to be your grandmother, scared because she thinks someone might be inside her house.
These are the calls that keep me going, and that remind me every time why I love this job.
NENA: Why did you choose a career in public safety?
KH: I have always wanted to be a police officer, from as far back as I can remember. And further back than that, my parents assure me that I was infatuated with the idea of becoming a policeman. I never pictured myself doing anything else. In school, when we had to take tests to see which career path might be the best option for us, I consistently scored in the public safety sector.
Then one lucky day, I apply to become a dispatcher at my local police department. My aunt had suggested I get my foot in the door somehow, so this was my shot. Then as they say, the rest is history. I have found a career that I genuinely love. While I could do without some of the politics, and understaffing/underfunding, I love the barebones focus of the job…sending help to those who need it.
NENA: What do you like best about your job?
KH: I would have to say the part I love best about my job, at my current agency, is the opportunity to work different positions (such as calltaker, fire dispatch, police dispatch, etc.). This allows me to keep a fresh perspective, and not get burnt out in one particular position.
As for the job in general, the simple fact that I help people daily gives me a sense of purpose that so many professions out there lack.
NENA: Is there a particular event or call that you are particularly proud of?
KH: One that sticks out in my mind was one afternoon that we had a summer storm. It was absolutely a horrendous day to be in dispatch. Phones were ringing off the hook, there were more calls pending than I have ever seen in my short career. The reason this sticks in my mind though is the teamwork that I witnessed to get us through the day. Every petty thing that we complained about, all the small stuff that bothered us, even the big complaints we had, it all washed away with the torrential downpour. We worked together as a well-oiled machine and absolutely rocked it. Leaving that night, I felt immensely proud of my teammates.
If there’s one thing that I’m sure a lot of centers out there can relate to is we shine under pressure.
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?
KH: 9-1-1 does not work like it does in the movies. We rely on you being calm, cool, and collected, and willing to listen to our questions and our instructions to get you the right help at the right time in the right way. The faster you answer our questions and don’t argue with us, the faster help gets there, and the faster we can get you potentially life-saving instructions.