Updated: Jul 19
Ryan Dedmon, MA
911 Training Institute
Last week, thousands of public-safety dispatchers took over the Baltimore Convention Center for the 2019 APCO International Conference. I was honored to spend the week with them.
This was my first time attending a national APCO Conference since 2013, when I was still working as a dispatcher. That year the conference was in Anaheim, CA. I was asked by 911 for Kids to do a short educational presentation for a group of children during their “911 Heroes” awards ceremony at the Motorola Solutions booth in the exhibit hall at that conference years ago. Needless to say, I was charged with emotions as I entered the convention center in Baltimore this year.
If you follow any of the prominent 911 leaders from across the country on various social media platforms, you know that many of them submitted brilliant proposals to speak at this year's conference. These leaders, from both public-safety agencies and the private sector, are the cream of the crop in the field of emergency communications. I was honored to have been selected to present two sessions of “Survive & Thrive: A Path through Trauma into Resilience”.
During this session, I share the story of the accumulation of stress from personal loss and professional trauma that I experienced in my career as a dispatcher, hoping it inspires attendees to take better care of themselves. However, I wanted to do something different in this session.
If you have ever taken 911TI’s Survive & Thrive training class with Jim Marshall, you will remember how important Heat-Focused Breathing (HFB) and Quick Coherence Technique (QCT)* are in mitigating your body’s stress response and helping you return to homeostasis. And so, I had a volunteer come up front during each session and guided them through HFB and QCT. The audience watched this brief demonstration and saw first-hand the powerful effects these techniques have on personal wellness.
There were several other outstanding sessions I had the opportunity to attend. Cheryl Konarski from the Joplin Police Department (MO) and Shinar Haynes and Abigail Dudek from Tarrant County 911 District (TX) all co-presented a great presentation called, “Marketing 911: Taking Your Passion on the Road”. They showed attendees the benefits of having a strong public-relations program for outreach to build relationships with people in the community.
Jonathan Jones from Athens-Clarke County Police Department (GA) and Tyrell Morris from Orleans Parish Communications District (LA) co-presented a session on “Tactical Dispatch Teams: Your Job on the Other Side of the Console”. These gentlemen gave attendees different perspectives on the role of a tactical dispatch and how to build those types of specialized teams at agencies and implement them into operations.
APCO also recognized recent graduates of their Registered Public-Safety Leader (RPL) and Certified Public-Safety Executive (CPE) programs. These are intensive leadership training programs for public-safety professionals serving in emergency communications. 911TI would like extend our congratulations to all the RPL and CPE graduates.
On behalf of the 911 Training Institute and Jim Marshall, I would like to thank the APCO Executive Board, the leaders who served on the conference committee, and all the volunteers who worked behind-the-scenes to make this year’s conference a great success and wonderful experience for all. We are already looking forward to next year’s conference in Orlando, FL.
*Source: Personal Resilience Guide—Law Enforcement and Other First Responders.
McCraty, Moor & Lash, Institute of HeartMath, 2012. Used by permission.