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NENA Member Spotlight: Rea Washington

Wednesday, December 7, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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This special feature highlights NENA members from various backgrounds, industry segments, experiences, and geographic locations. It offers members an opportunity to share their stories 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….

Rea Washington: Ask any military brat where they are from and we’re usually stumped on how to exactly answer that question. I grew up living in various places around the world following my father from Army base to Army base until he retired. I currently reside in Arkansas and work for the Ark-Tex Council of Governments as the 9-1-1 Operations Coordinator where I aid in all phases of 9-1-1 program implementation, maintenance and overall coordination for a nine county region.

I became a member of NENA in 2012 to learn more about the 9-1-1 industry and the future of Emergency Communications and was immediately impressed with the leadership, support and resources the association offers to its members. I’ve attended last two NENA Development Conferences and several state and national Nena Conferences. I also contribute by volunteering and participating in NENA work groups.

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

RW: If I would have been asked this question just 10 years ago I would’ve said, "9-1-1 is the number to dial when you need help!” Now it means so much more, 9-1-1 is every single network and its components and every single role that is dedicated to ensuring that the call for help is answered.

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

RW: My career in public safety started off as a temporary position I was given the opportunity to start my training under a great Database Technician, Karen Gregory. She explained how one of the roles of our agency was to assign the address that aided in finding someone in an emergency and how the database worked in relation to 9-1-1 call routing, and I was hooked. Since then, I have held several positions in the 9-1-1 program. With every meeting, training and workshop attended I gained a greater appreciation for all the work that goes behind ensuring public safety through emergency communications and knew that I would always want to be a part of this community. So, when deciding to complete my Business degree I switched to the closest concentration that would relate to my current position in Public Safety.

NENA: What do you like best about your job?

RW: I have never answered a 9-1-1 call or worked in dispatch, but I am afforded the chance to see the 9-1-1 telecommunicators (heroes) in action when I am conducting PSAP monitoring visits and testing the network. I find so much pride in knowing that in a small way I aid those that answer the call. There is absolutely no greater reward than knowing what you do for a living is helping to save lives.

NENA: What advice do you have for those who are new to the 9-1-1 profession?

RW: My advice to those new to the 9-1-1 profession would be this, first try to gain a feel of how important every role in the Public Safety community is to helping those in need. Second take advantage of the resources provided by NENA to gain a better understanding of the industry in its entirety, attend conferences if you can and enroll in the provided educational courses as well. NENA on the state and national level offers the foundation you need to support your current role or any you wish to pursue in your future in 9-1-1.