NENA Member Spotlight: Rea Washington
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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
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
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.