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Monday, February 12, 2018

Join us in the spring! (Class Details)


On behalf of Sumner County Emergency Communications and Sedgwick County Emergency Communications, we are very excited to have you join us in Mulvane at the beautiful Kansas Star Casino April 16th through 18th for the spring APCO conference!  We are working hard to put together a conference lineup that will leave you feeling informed and ignited by the time you are done.  We want to ignite, or re-ignite, your passion for public safety and provide you with tools to be successful, both when at the console and at home! 

Some of the classes we will be offering include –

Receiving, Identifying, and Dispatching Swatting/911 Hoax Calls will be one of our general session classes.  We have all seen this happen in Kansas recently and want to be prepared for if, or really when, we are faced with the same situation in our own 911 centers.  Lt. Ben Finley has worked with numerous law enforcement agencies around the metro Atlanta area on swatting investigations and developed his training program based off of real life experiences.  He will go over the way calls are made, the type of technology these callers have used in the past, as well as new or trending devices and techniques, and will help provide you tools to identify indicators that should raise your suspicion for these types of situations.

We will have classes tailored for the front line dispatcher, including –

Work/Life Balance.  You are more than a warm body in a chair and it is important to maintain an effective work/life balance so that you can serve your family, your community and your self. 

Customer Service Training.  What does customer service look like in 911?  It isn’t the same at 911 that it is in the retail industry, for example.  This is customer service training tailored to YOU, the dispatcher. 

Forensic Nursing and Evidence Preservation.  This will be a discussion of what forensic nursing does and what they are looking for in sexual assault investigations.  This is helpful to know because the dispatcher can play a very important role in evidence preservation and later prosecution.  Never forget that you are the first line in successful investigation and prosecution so being educated on what will happen once you are done with the call is important.

Open Fox Tips and Tricks.  You’ve been trained on the basics but here are some tips to enhance your experience and an opportunity to ask questions of the experts. 

Complacency Training.   A complacent dispatcher is dangerous and unfortunately it is a trap that we can fall into.  Renew yourself in this course and allow it to focus you back in on why you do what you do and why you have to give 100% on every call.   

And many, many more. 

We have classes for trainers, including –

Presentation Skills.  There is an art to presenting in a way that is understood and effective.  This is a great opportunity to learn some new skills and work on knocking your next presentation out of the park!

Improving Trainee Performance.  We all want trainees to be successful – both because it is a reflection on us as trainers and because we want them to stay so we don’t have to keep training people!  Here we will provide you some tools to help ensure that you are successful as a trainer.

We have classes for supervisors, including –

Giving and Receiving Feedback.  Giving and receiving feedback can be tricky, especially when you are providing it to people who you have worked next to for years.  It is even more important that we, as leaders, are able to receive feedback.  This class will help arm you for delivering effective feedback and provide you tools to make sure that you are open to receiving feedback, as well. 

Servant Leadership.  Do you want to make a change in your 911 culture?  Do you want to be a leader that others want to follow?  Servant Leadership is a different way to approach leadership and create some change in your organization.  This class will discuss what it means to be a servant leader in the 911 industry.

And we have classes for administrators, including -

Hiring Roundtable.  What are other agencies doing that is, or is not, working in their hiring?  Where do they advertise?  How do they test?  Come join us in a discussion and share ideas on how to get the right candidate behind the console.

Contingency and Overflow Planning on the Statewide System.  What are the contingency measures for 911 calls on the statewide system and how can you be prepared for potential future issues?

This is just a sampling of classes, there are more to come!  Trust me when I say you don’t want to miss out on this conference.

Join us online, Wednesday, February 14th, for our Flash Day!  If you register and pay online on February 14th, registration will be $80 for APCO members and $100 for non-members.  On February 15th registration goes back to its 2018 rate of $100 for members and $125 for non-members.  And don’t forget we have one day registration passes available for $50!

I can’t wait to see you in the spring!

Elora Forshee
Sedgwick County Emergency Communications
Kansas APCO Immediate Past President

Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Spring APCO Conference Call for Presentations

Good morning,

Sedgwick County Emergency Communications and Sumner County Emergency Communications are co-hosting the Kansas Spring APCO Conference, April 16th through the 18th, at the Kansas Star Casino, 777 Kansas Star Drive, Mulvane.  We are really excited about hosting in this beautiful venue and know that we will have a lineup of classes ready to educate and continue to feed the passion for public safety of 911 dispatchers from throughout the state. 

If you are interested in presenting a class at the conference then we would love to hear from you.  Please contact me via email (elora.forshee@sedgwick.gov) or phone (316-660-4977) to receive a copy of the call for presentations form.  Presentation proposals must be submitted by February 28th, 2018 for consideration.  We welcome submissions from all levels;  911 front line staff, administrative personnel, field personnel, and vendors. 

Please let me know if you have any questions. 


Regards,

Elora Forshee 

Friday, June 16, 2017

2nd Vice President, Kansas Chapter of APCO

It is with a heavy heart that we report that Mary Eitel had to resign her position as Second Vice President of the Kansas APCO Board.  Mary’s position within Lane County has changed and, though her heart remains in dispatch, that is no longer her role with the County and therefore she is unable to attend the APCO events as she once had.  Mary has been a presence at APCO conferences for a long time, even before she was on the board, so we will all miss her smiling face and wish her well in her new role!

While we hate to see Mary go, we are left in very capable hands with the appointment of Laura Meyers from Sedgwick County who will fill that 2nd Vice President role and finish out the four year term.  Laura Meyers was selected as she was the first runner up for the 2nd Vice President position during the last election and her appointment was voted unanimously by all board members.  Laura is with Sedgwick County Emergency Communications, starting her career there in 2009 as a dispatcher, and serves as the Major over Support Services.  In this role Laura oversees the Quality Assurance and Training teams, as well as handling public education, employee recruitment, community outreach, and serves as the KORA Coordinator, among other things she is tasked with.  Laura is married and she and her husband, Dan, have three young children, Anderson, Abraham, and Clark.  A fun fact about Laura, she is a classically trained Pastry Chef, having attended the French Pastry School in Chicago, Illinois (though with 3 rambunctious boys under the age of 6, there isn’t much time for baking fancy desserts). 


Please help us in welcoming Laura Meyers to the APCO Board!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Reclassification Efforts

As most of you know, the May 7th deadline to gather 100,000 e-signatures for the White House petition is quickly approaching and we barely halfway to our goal of 100,000 signatures.  I have to wonder how we could have 5,874 PSAPs in the United States (according to NENA, as of 2017) and over 100,000 dispatchers working (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2014) yet we can’t gather 100,000 signatures on a petition that tells the White House that we, as emergency service dispatchers and 911 call takers, should be classified as a first responder position rather than a clerical position.  Our industry has come so far from when we were just the glorified secretary for the agencies we served, we are public safety professionals in our own right, so why can’t we throw our support behind a movement that is seeking that recognition? 

I ask that you think about what a reclassification would mean to you and, if you support it, explain that to your friends and family and ask them to sign the petition.  A reclassification, to me, means the start of a shift in perception for what we do.  Day in and day out, hour after hour, weekends, holidays, every day my team in dispatch is available to help shoulder the burden of the worst day of somebody’s life.  They are ready to offer help, emotional support, a calm, professional voice while getting this person the help that they need.  Then they stand by ready to help the helpers.  The questions we ask are key to their success and safety – both in the investigatory phase and the prosecutorial phase.

If we are successful in our reclassification efforts does that mean that we will immediately get the pay and acknowledgement we deserve for the stressful role we play in our communities?  No, it does not.  But does it mean that there is a shift in the conversation that sets the foundation for these changes to be made?  Absolutely, in my opinion it does.  How can we ask the powers that be in our local jurisdictions to provide the pay and benefits that we deserve as part of the first responder community if we can’t even get behind a movement for us to be classified that way?  How do we expect to recruit and retain public safety professionals that are expected to operate with increased expectations and pressures without compensating them justly for it?  This job is not getting easier.  We are in the midst of the greatest change to 911 services since its implementation and part of what needs to change is how we are classified. 

I’ll step down off of my soap box now and simply ask that, if you haven’t already, go and sign the petition.  It is easy and quick – and I’ll tell you from my personal experience, putting your valid email address on the petition so they can confirm that you are real does not expose you to scam emails (I signed several weeks ago and haven’t seen anything of the sort).  Then please share the petition with your friends, family, public safety partners, and your community  and ask them to take the time to support the valuable role you play and to sign the petition that will set the stage for this career to be recognized and classified appropriately.  Even if present day you doesn’t understand it, I’m confident that future you will be thankful for the reclassification and the benefits it will bring.

Both the Kansas Chapter of APCO page and the APCO International page on Facebook have graphics and the link to share this petition (please go and like both pages if you haven’t yet) to help you share your story with your network of people.  I also have a sample letter provided by APCO International to send out to friends and family requesting their support and if you would like that sent to you then please email me at elora.forshee@sedgwick.gov.  And finally, the website to sign the petition is https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/9-1-1-professionals-should-be-recognized-protecting-and-saving-lives

Respectfully yours,
Elora Forshee

2017 Kanas APCO President

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Reclassification Rumors

Greetings,

I have been made aware of some misconceptions about the impact the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) issue will have on the communications officers that might be preventing folks from signing the APCO White House petition, specifically that some people were reluctant to sign the petition because they were under the impression that the reclassification could result in a loss of overtime and other benefits.

Let me be clear, the SOC revision has absolutely NO impact on federal, state, or overtime rules, labor-relations agreements, retirement benefits, or pay.

To quote the APCO Government Relations Office, "The SOC does not have a direct legal relationship to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Reclassification in the SOC would not, by itself, open the door for different treatment under FLSA."

To quote from the Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics website at Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System "The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system is used by Federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data."

I'm not sure how the misconceptions have formed, but please let me assure you that APCO is simply trying to promote the profession by securing the recognition and respect that public safety communications officers/telecommunicators deserve. I would not support something that would hurt our profession and the professionals that have, for too long, been overlooked and underappreciated.

Right now, crossing guards, and casino camera monitors are classified as a protective service, while those of us behind the console are classified as clerical support, along with post office mail sorters and stock clerks. 

Please do not allow rumor and misinformation keep you from supporting this important effort. If the Department of Labor does not recognize the important contributions that call takers and dispatchers make to our communities, it will be 2028 before the issue is considered again. If you have resisted supporting the SOC reclassification effort by signing the APCO White House petition, please ask yourself if you are willing to go another 10 years without the recognition and respect you deserve. 

If you haven't already, please, sign the petition, so that we can bring the issue to the attention of folks at the White House and get them to FINALLY recognize 9-1-1 professionals for our service to our communities - protecting and saving lives.


https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/9-1-1-professionals-should-be-recognized-protecting-and-saving-lives

Regards,
Elora Forshee
2017 Kansas APCO President

Friday, April 14, 2017

Telecommunicator's Week 2017

I had the honor of spending the beginning of National Telecommunicator’s Week at the Kansas APCO Conference surrounded by other public safety professionals.  I listened to stories of excellent work being done throughout the state of Kansas and marveled at all that we do from behind the console.  911 Dispatchers, by nature, are a highly adaptable, resilient group of public safety professionals and are most definitely the heroes behind the scenes.  I hope that the communities you serve showed you love and appreciate this week for all of the sacrifices you make in their honor.

I want to personally congratulate all of the award winners that were recognized by their peers for their excellent work in the field of telecommunications –

2017 Telecommunicator of the Year – Heather Gerhardt, Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office
2017 Telecommunicator of the Year Runner Up – Deidra Messenger, Sedgwick County Emergency Communications
2017 Line Supervisor of the Year – Nicholas Hill, Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office
2017 Director of the Year – Amy Lierz, Nemaha County Sheriff’s Office
2017 Team of the Year – Harvey County Communications (team members include Darren Ryan, Monica Leonard, Brody Flavin, Matt Regier, Cathy Rankin, Liz Sauerwein, Josh Bieghler, Shirley Wellington, Tayler Bush, Heather Weber, Colleen Riley, Melissa Farlow, Stephanie Bergquist, Ken Jobe, Courtney Becker, Shannon Robbins, Nicky Van Horn, Ryan Olbricht, Jason Heppler, Rachel Corn, Molly Redinger, and Don Gruver)

The nominations for these people were awe inspiring, to say the least.  It is truly reflective of the work being done throughout the state of Kansas by dispatchers who do amazing things daily without much public acknowledgment because excellence is simply expected of us.  We work a profession where there is very little room for error and we rise to the occasion daily and just make stuff happen. 

One of my favorite 911 quotes is “always remember that it’s your voice in the darkness that gives hope to those who really need it.”  What you do is powerful.  I don’t know what else to say besides thank you. 

Elora Forshee,

2017 Kansas APCO President

Monday, March 13, 2017

Conference Keynote Speakers

We are getting so excited about the conference coming up in Overland Park! It is less than a month away! Our conference lineup is looking great. Here is some information about our keynote speakers and the conference schedule has been posted on our website. We sincerely hope to see you there!

“Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” – Leadership is more than being an appointed supervisor. Everyone in your communications center has the possibility for leadership. This one of a kind leadership class will address leadership at all levels of your organization and provide attendees with ways to improve the leadership in your communications center. By Tony Harrison

Tony Harrison – Tony is the founder of The Public Safety Group. Tony has spent more than twenty five years in communications, working in small centers to major metropolitan communications centers. He is a Certified Emergency Number Professional, has a BA in Criminal Justice and a MA in Political Science and Urban Affairs. During his time in the communications center he has served as a Call Taker, Dispatcher, Communications Training Officer and Communications Training Coordinator. He was also a Communications Supervisor for 6 years. Tony has been awarded numerous letters of commendations during his service for his professionalism and attention to duty during an officer involved shooting, the federal building bombing and service on numerous department boards. Tony was the on-duty shift supervisor during the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 when 168 people were killed during the largest domestic terrorist event in US history. Tony served as a reserve Deputy Sheriff for the Canadian County Sheriff's Office in Oklahoma for more than 20 years and retired at the rank of Captain. This gives him a very unique insight into BOTH sides of the radio - the needs of the officer on the ground and the demands on communication personnel. During his service he was awarded the Medal of Valor for his involvement during a fatal officer involved shooting of a homicide, kidnapping and rape suspect. Tony has been active in both APCO and NENA serving as a state chapter president and numerous committees at a national level including the Professional Development Committee, Project 35, project 37, Homeland Security Task Force, policies, procedures & training committee and currently serve on the Commercial Advisor Council. In 2012 he was awarded life membership in APCO international.

Dealing with Burnout & Managing Stress By Dr. Jenny Prohaska


Dr. Jennifer Prohaska – Dr. Prohaska is a native Kansan. She completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas in 2013. She completed her residency at University of Kansas Medical Center with a specialty in neuro-rehabilitation medicine, where her primary focus was addressing the immediate psychological needs of individuals undergoing major physical and emotional trauma in an inpatient medical setting. After completion of her residency, also in 2013, she was hired as a Clinical Faculty Member at the University of Kansas Cancer Centers where her duties were to address the needs of terminally ill individuals with a variety of cancers, and specializing in brain cancer. In late 2013 she was presented with the opportunity to return to a trauma medicine-related practice when she entered private practice as a police and public safety psychologist. Since that time she has worked primarily with individuals in law enforcement and the fire service in both clinical and educational settings. She enjoys complex casework that still allows her to use her medical knowledge while helping people return to their respective service positions. She very much enjoys teaching, risk assessment and evaluations, leadership coaching, and using psychological knowledge and skill to help organizations address complex personnel problems and create positive organizational change.