Fourth Annual Awards Recognize U.S. 9-1-1 Call-Takers; From Guiding Callers over the Phone on How to Deliver Babies and Perform CPR to Just Going beyond the Call of Duty, Winner and Four Regional Honorees Praised for Excellence, Compassion and Dedication to Saving Lives
April 14, 2015 -- On February 5th, Gabby Romero, a 9-1-1 dispatcher in League City, Texaswas working her regular shift, when she received a troubling call from a male subject who had threatened to injure himself, stated that he wanted to die and then abruptly disconnected the call. Over the next several minutes, Romero demonstrated a calm demeanor, a focused response and the absolute determination to help another faceless citizen. For this reason, she has been selected the national winner of the 2015 Smart Telecommunicator Awards.
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 fourth annual Smart Telecommunicator Awards from Smart911 kicked-off in March, calling for nominations of 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers (telecommunicators) across the U.S. for their leadership, performance, compassion for callers, ability to inspire co-workers and overall contributions to their Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). Forty finalist entries were then selected for an online public vote and thousands of voters from the U.S. logged on to support their local hero. Today, the results were announced during an award ceremony held in League City, Texas, home of this year's national winner.
The nomination for Romero of the League City Police Department detailed the story of her response to a suicidal caller. After the call was disconnected, Romero immediately began tracing it in an attempt to determine the caller's location, which turned out to be in a neighboring jurisdiction. She then contacted the appropriate agency and advised them of the urgent and serious situation. Soon after, the neighboring agency called her back and let her know that they had found the suicidal caller, that he had injured himself and was in need of immediate medical attention. It was acknowledged that Romero's knowledge, experience, quick thinking and immediate action are directly responsible for saving the man's life.
"Gabby's work is an example of the compassion, leadership and professionalism League City Police Department telecommunicators demonstrate in their service every day to the League City community," said Chief Michael Kramm of the League City Police Department.
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 also awarded the title of regional Smart Telecommunicator honorees, including:
- Northeast – Gregg Cerrone of the Franklin County Department of Emergency Services, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, received a 9-1-1 call from a person located in Winchester, Virginia (more than 60 miles, and two states away). The caller reported he had seen some disturbing posts on a social media website from a male, who suggested he was going to harm himself. The caller reported he only knew the subject's name and that information associated with the posts indicated he was located nearGreencastle, Pennsylvania. After further investigation, the caller provided Cerrone with the subject's date of birth and the name of a former acquaintance. Using the limited information on hand, Cerrone was able to obtain a potential mobile phone number through third-party software. He then contacted the phone number's associated service provider who assisted him in identifying and locating the subject. Emergency services were dispatched and found the subject, who had overdosed on medication and was in need of immediate medical attention, which he received. Cerrone's knowledge, quick thinking and determination are credited with saving the man's life.
- Southeast – Jeremy Pickett with Decatur-Grady E-911 in Decatur, Georgia is widely known by emergency responders in Decaturand Grady counties. It is reported by those who work with him "every single firefighter and police officer are relieved and excited when [Pickett] is the voice we hear." He delivers such vast amounts of intelligence to emergency personnel that he's become heavily relied upon by those in the field to be on the line when responders are arriving on scene. His intuition delivers critical data before it's requested. Pickett has used Smart911 to help emergency crews locate a key so they didn't have to break down a door, and to obtain important medical information about an unconscious patient. Pickett has even guided crews on how to respond accordingly when working with children who may have autism. He is recognized by all for his extreme professionalism, deep expertise and compassion, which have directly helped create positive outcomes.
- Central – Meghan Smith of Sequoyah County 911, located in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, is a rising star telecommunicator. She started with Sequoyah County 911 part-time while she was completing her degree. Since graduating, in just a few short years, Smith has blossomed, becoming a full dispatcher and now, a supervisor. Her deep expertise, knowledge and commitment are apparent. She has continued her education and now holds many relevant certifications that help her help emergency responders and citizens. Smith has assisted callers in delivering babies over the phone, multiple times, as well as guiding them through the administration of CPR and first aid. Her performance has been commended by fire chiefs and anyone who has worked with her.
- West – Sheri Marshall of the Chico Police Department in Chico, California has been a telecommunicator for more than 30 years. During this time, her passion, enthusiasm and dedication to performing at the highest levels has been unwavering. A huge proponent of education, she has now committed herself to training new dispatchers and is relied upon by the State of California to share her extensive knowledge and experience with the 9-1-1 community. Marshall sits on the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Committee, which determines curriculum and classes for all dispatchers. She has taught at the police academy and at other state agencies, imparting her wisdom to hundreds of students over the years.
In addition to the Smart Telecommunicator Awards, Smart911 will present a donation of $1,000 in Romero's name to Bay Area Pet Adoptions, located in San Leon, Texas. Each regional honoree will also receive a $500 donation to charities of their choosing.
"Our nation's telecommunicators are the first line of emergency response. They are the voice you hear when you are, mostly likely, at your worst and calling 9-1-1," said Chief Executive Officer, Tom Axbey of Rave Mobile Safety. "It is their experience, knowledge and actions that directly lead to positive emergency outcomes. We never cease to be truly amazed by the stories we hear about how dispatchers every where go above and beyond to save the lives of people they will never know. All of us at Rave salute Gabby and our four regional winners."
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.
Smart911 was introduced four years ago by Rave Mobile Safety, the most trusted software partner for campus and public safety. In 2014, Smart911 was announced in 39 new locations in 17 U.S. states, making the private and secure service available to an additional 5 million citizens in their hometown, bringing the total coverage area to more than 1,000 communities across 40 states. Smart911 has been credited with positively impacting emergency situations across the U.S., including a missing child case inArkansas, and saving lives, such as a heart attack victim in Nashville and a house fire victim in Michigan.
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