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Quick Look Back at the 2023 NENA Conference

Updated: Aug 22, 2023


911 Training Institute

“How was the conference?”

What goes into your answer to that question? Personally, I’d say my experience was “Great!” Nice word. Real worn out too. But when I say that I mean it.

I’m envisioning the extraordinary one-on-one conversations I could have never orchestrated, like with the “First Timer” who was wandering around in a trance amidst the ceaseless cacophony of voices, music, demonstrations, caught up in the sea of humans rapid-shuttling from one session or event to the next.

When all the din around me faded and that uncelebrated voice resounded, this frontline 911Pro took the risk to share about her own struggles... how she refused to be broken... how she made it to the other side, then championed wellness at her center despite push back and slow buy in... how hard she is still fighting so that her younger peers don’t have to struggle without support like she did. It felt like a privilege when she gave me the chance to offer even the smallest encouragement. Yeah, that was a “Great” experience because she, and all the others who don’t get to attend a national conference, are what these big events are all about. The rest of us are just their servants.

When I sat with NENA’s North Carolina chapter leaders at the NENA Wellness Pavilion and listened, I was blown away as they described how they rallied their own hardships into a shared vision of support, which has become a highly successful annual retreat. Their retreat is a peer led, clinically guided experience at which 911Pros share rare days of safe, deeply meaningful conversations, good meals and expert guidance empowering them to move from brokenness to a healing community that loves and supports them. Witnessing how each of these 911Pros rallied courage, belief in each other and innovated? Folks that hit this guy right in the gut. But these North Carolinians also turned their retreat into a super valuable Wellness Workbook so the rest of us who can’t attend the retreat have guidance as we seek to walk our own journey into better self-care. That’s just “Great stuff!"

Then when I found myself leaning in, knee to knee in some hallway, or at dinner with veteran 911 leaders – those who somewhere along the way became, not only deeply valued colleagues who helped advocate for 911 mental health, but also became cherished friends, to sit enjoying ad hoc personal reunions, and celebrating how we somehow survived the fierce personal storms we had confided in each other about through the years – yeah, damn, that too was pretty great.

It was uniquely great when I could sit back and watch my own 911TI team – Jay Scott (Partner Engagement Director) and Ryan Dedmon (Outreach Director) – in action on their own and witness how they genuinely invested with conference participants, showed real respect for that privilege, and conveyed so much zeal, focus, and legit concern. Great stuff!

Finally, it was truly “great” to shake the hand of our outgoing NENA President, Laurie Anderson, look into those service-weary, but still sparkling, intelligent eyes and thank her for all she did to advance the cause of wellbeing for our 911Pros during her term in office. Definitely worth showing up!

So, how was the 2023 NENA Conference? Great. And I am so tired! But really great!

A big thank you to all those tuckered NENA staffers, board members and countless volunteers that made the whole event sing!

National Emergency Number Association (NENA): Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

North Carolina NENA Wellness Workbook:

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