Third Annual Awards Recognize U.S. 9-1-1 Call-Takers; From Rescuing Victim in Car Swept Away by Flood to Finding Kidnappers to Saving Lives in Medical Emergencies, Winner and Four Regional Honorees Praised for Excellence
April is National 9-1-1 Education Month and the second full week is also traditionally celebrated as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. With this in mind, the third Annual Smart Telecommunicator Awards kicked-off last month, conducted by Rave Mobile Safety, creators of the acclaimed public safety network, Smart911. Across the U.S., 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers (telecommunicators) were nominated by peers and individuals for leadership, performance, compassion for callers, ability to inspire co-workers and overall contributions to their Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). Twenty finalist entries were then selected for an online public vote and thousands of voters from the U.S. and around the globe selected a national winner and four regional honorees. Today, the results were announced during a press conference held in Tucker, Georgia, home of this year’s national winner.
Danielle Harvey of DeKalb County E-911 Communications, located in Tucker, was named the national winner for her exemplary work as a Certified Training Officer and outstanding job performance. Operator Harvey trains new dispatchers, teaching them response strategies and critical thinking. One of Harvey’s freshly trained dispatchers was just four hours into her first day on the job when the dispatcher answered a 9-1-1 call requesting medical assistance for her own father. Due to the high level of training provided by Harvey, the operator remained calm, professional and steadfast during the call. Operator Harvey is also credited with diligently assisting field units in safely locating a missing elderly woman. Since Harvey began work as a telecommunicator in 2007, she has received numerous accolades and recognition for her performance, teamwork and efforts on behalf of local charitable organizations.
“Danielle is an invaluable member of our team here at DeKalb and is respected by all of us. We could not be more pleased to see her honored in this way,” said Marshall Mooneyham, director of 911 Communications. “Her leadership and professionalism, coupled with genuine human kindness and support of her community, makes her an obvious choice for this year’s award.”
The Smart Telecommunicator Awards are conducted by Rave Mobile Safety’s Smart911, the acclaimed national public safety service, in partnership with the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT) and the Denise Amber Lee Foundation.
Four finalists are awarded the title of regional Smart Telecommunicator honorees, including:
- Western – Laura Randolph of the Longmont Department of Public Safety in Colo. took a 9-1-1 call from a 23 year old driver who was trapped in her car and swept off the road during the city’s most devastating disaster, the 2013 “500 year flood.” Randolph’s composure and expertise were paramount in calming the panicked caller who was convinced she was going to die as freezing water that was already waist-high continued to rise. In addition, the caller did not know where she was and was in severe pain due to the water saturating an area where she recently had major surgery. Randolph calmed the caller, and by questioning her on what she could see, was able to determine the location of the vehicle. She continued to speak with the caller, providing words of comfort for 18 minutes, while firefighters rode to the rescue on jet skis.
- Central – In Mundelein, Ill, Telecommunicator Vicki Dorjath took a call from a Spanish-speaking caller who reported her three-year old daughter had been kidnapped. The telecommunicator’s bilingual abilities were put to use, as she conversed with the frantic caller in Spanish, obtaining the vehicle make and only one number of the offender’s license plate. With her quick thinking, devotion and knowledge, the telecommunicator was able to jumpstart the investigation process and quickly identified potential suspects. Less than 48 hours later, the child was returned safely and the kidnapper was in custody.
- Northeast – Garin Worth of the Tewksbury, Mass. Police Department received a 9-1-1 call from a grandmother in the middle of the night who reported her three-year old grandchild was not breathing. The telecommunicator calmly instructed the frantic caller to lay the child on the ground and began guiding the grandmother through the rescue process. Within a few seconds, the child became responsive. The telecommunicator’s calm demeanor, professionalism and sound thinking resulted in a life saved.
- Southeast – On Valentine’s Day of this year, Sandra Devita of Boca Raton 9-1-1 in Fla. took a 9-1-1 call from a very distraught woman who suspected her husband was in cardiac arrest. Devita patiently and methodically deployed several techniques to calm the woman and control the call, meanwhile dispatching response personnel. Once the caller was calmed, Devita issued clear and concise instructions on how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The wife later called the Boca Raton 9-1-1 center to credit Devita and thank her for saving her husband’s life.
In addition to the Smart Telecommunicator Award, Smart911 will present a donation of $1,000 in Harvey’s name to the DeKalb County Women’s Resource Center, her designated charity. Each regional honoree will also receive a $500 donation to charities of their choosing.
“The job of a telecommunicator requires an individual to diffuse emergencies and avert tragedy, while maintaining their composure, at any given moment,” said Tom Axbey, CEO of Rave Mobile Safety. “Not everyone can succeed in these very challenging duties. We continue to be awestruck by the stories we hear of telecommunicators deft skills and going well above-and-beyond the normal call of duty.”
Smart911 allows citizens to create a Safety Profile online for their household that includes information they want 9-1-1 and response teams to have during an emergency. When a citizen makes an emergency call, their Safety Profile is automatically displayed to the 9-1-1 call-taker, allowing them to send the right response teams to the right location with the right information. Fire crews can be aware of such things as how many people live at a home and the location of bedrooms. EMS can know about specific conditions for fast, precise medical treatment. And because profiles can contain photos, in the event of a missing child, police can gain an advantage, receiving critical information in seconds versus hours.
Introduced nearly three years ago by Rave Mobile Safety, the most trusted software partner for campus and public safety, Smart911 has been adopted in 33 states and more than 450 municipalities. It has been credited with positively impacting emergency situations across the U.S., including a missing child case in Arkansas, victims of heart attack and Epilepsy in Nashville, a domestic disturbance in DuPage County (Ill.) and more.