The City of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) today recognized National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week at its annual employee awards ceremony recognizing new 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 Operations graduates and honoring the outstanding contributions of 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers, supervisors and other OEMC personnel including 3-1-1 non-emergency operators and aviation operators at O’Hare and Midway airports..
“On behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago, we are proud to applaud the extraordinary dedication of our staff in a service that is often very challenging,” said OEMC Executive Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “No matter what the role or circumstance, our call takers, dispatchers, emergency management, public safety information technology, traffic control aides and crossing guards contribute to the overall operations citywide and the critical task of keeping residents of this city safe and secure, whether it’s on a routine day or during a high-profile city event."
April is National 9-1-1 Education Month and, each year, the second week in April is designated as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week to pay tribute to 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 personnel. This year, the week of April 8 through April 14 was highlighted to acknowledge those working in the public safety communications field.
New 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 Graduates Join OEMC
During a special awards ceremony at OEMC’s 9-1-1 Center, Executive Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau praised 30 new 9-1-1 Operations graduates and nine new 3-1-1 Operations graduates for their commitment to service this morning. 9-1-1 call takers are trained for three months, 9-1-1 dispatchers are trained for 6 months, 9-1-1 supervisors are trained for an additional six weeks, and 3-1-1 staff receive three months of training.
Family Attends Ceremony to Personally Thank 9-1-1 Call Taker
At the family’s request to thank the person behind the scenes who helped in a frightening situation involving several young girls, the family presented a 9-1-1 call taker with flowers as a token of appreciation this morning. Last June, a very smart, frightened young lady reached out to 9-1-1 while locked in the bathroom as intruders were burglarizing their home. A life and death situation, the armed intruders continued to move about the home, attempting to reach the girls hiding in the bathroom. From the first moment of the call to the positive conclusion of the episode, the call taker remained on the call as trained, constantly reassuring the girl, all the while coordinating the changing scenario with first responders. As the situation unfolded, the call taker relayed information to police as they raced to the scene while providing calming, comforting instructions to the brave and very articulate young lady.
Police Communications Operators and Fire Communications Operators work daily with first responders behind the scenes to help save lives. Situations in chaotic, critical times challenge these key personnel, yes they demonstrate tremendous professionalism time and time again. Below are excerpts of a select few awards distributed at the ceremony:
Award of Merit: Actions Lead to Arrest of Offender with Gun, 50 Stolen Credit Cards
In February 2017, a police dispatcher received a call regarding a woman with a gun. The dispatcher immediately dispatched field units to the scene, and recognizing the urgency of the situation, the dispatcher sent out a flash message with the description of the offender’s vehicle to the neighboring police districts. Relying on her years of experience, the dispatcher took the initiative to also request that 22nd District officers check the vehicle’s registered address for the offender. The 22nd District units located and apprehended the offender at the address provided by the dispatcher. Once in custody, officers discovered 50 credit cards in the possession of the offender belonging to numerous victims of identity theft. The extraordinary efforts of the dispatcher were brought to OEMC’s attention by a Chicago Police Department member who “credits the successful apprehension of the offender to the actions taken by the dispatcher.”
Award of Merit: Proactive Efforts to Improve Fire Dispatch Operations for OEMC, CFD
On a daily basis, Fire Communications Supervisors play a crucial role facilitating communications between the OEMC and Chicago Fire Department (CFD). On his own time, a 9-1-1 Fire Dispatch Supervisor has visited firehouses to get a better idea of how the Fire Department functions. He researches the roles that each apparatus plays at an incident and interviews Chiefs and Company Officers about their needs from the OEMC. He uses his vast knowledge about how CFD operates and how each Fire Company functions throughout the city to bring heightened awareness to co-workers in Fire Dispatch Operations. His continuous dedication to duty enhances the positive working environment between the OEMC and CFD. Most importantly, the knowledge, dedication and experience the Supervisor brings to OEMC on a daily basis undoubtedly saves lives by ensuring that not only are the members of Fire Dispatch Operations prepared for duty, but the responding Chiefs and Company Officers are well informed in all situations.
Team Performance Award: Extraordinary Coordination Leads to Arrest of Armed Offender on CTA Platform
While assigned as a call taker in February 2018, 9-1-1’s Police Dispatch Operations received a call from CTA Transit Dispatch reporting a male armed with a box cutter who was threatening people on the Sheridan Road Redline platform. Simultaneously, a police call taker received a call of a man with a knife who had threatened people inside a Walgreens and who was last seen walking westbound near the Sheridan Road Redline station. A team of call takers and dispatchers gathered all the pertinent information and sent events to the zone for dispatch. In addition, they dispatched units to the Redline Station and disseminated all information on the zone and Citywide radio zones to notify area CPD units of the incident.
When it was discovered that the armed offender was running on the CTA tracks, the dispatcher immediately notified CTA Transit Dispatch of the urgent need to shut down all power on the tracks from Wilson to Thorndale Avenues. The dispatcher then made notification to his colleague who was assigned to the Citywide Zone. The team of dispatchers worked to dispatch a SWAT team to assist at the location and proceeded to update the event with information relayed by officers on scene. At the same time, another dispatcher remained on the line with CTA’s Dispatch Center to ensure the safety of the officers until the offender was placed into custody in a neutral area.
Throughout this volatile situation, the team of police call takers and dispatchers executed flawless teamwork and coordination to ensure the well-being of the public and responding officers.
Team Performance Award: Flawless Coordination of Dispatch and Resources Saves Officer
In May 2017, dispatchers received information regarding shots fired. At almost the same time, dispatchers assigned to a different zone were getting reports from the beat car that shots were fired by the police and an offender was down. Seconds later, the beat car officer stated his partner was shot and they needed an ambulance. The dispatchers assigned to the two zones in the area coordinated a multi-district response to this chaotic and life-threatening situation. Remaining in control of the radio traffic, they managed to engage helicopter support and request EMS, all while remaining calm so that the officers could respond in a like manner. They worked seamlessly as a team to bring this incident to a successful conclusion. The Citywide dispatchers that day provided immediate aide in making notifications and requesting support services. All individuals involved are true professionals and deserving of recognition.
OEMC Employee of the Year: 911 Supervisor Saves Life of Suicidal Person, Responding Officers
In March of 2017, a 9-1-1 call was received from an extremely agitated male threatening to shoot himself and any male officers that responded to his residence. During the conversation, the offender asked to speak with a female supervisor. The call taker who received the call briefed Supervising Police Communications Officer Chenetra Washington regarding the situation, and Washington immediately began to utilize the skills she learned through OEMC’s expanded Mental Health Crisis Awareness training. Washington was commended by City leaders at the City’s 9-1-1 Center for displaying the upmost professionalism and patience while communicating with the caller, which enabled her to keep the caller calm and gain his trust. After more than two hours, Washington persuaded the caller to surrender to the police. Due to her specialized mental health awareness training and dedication to public safety, the chaotic incident came to a close without loss of life to victim or officers on the scene. As a result of her actions, Washington was also named the top Police Dispatch Supervisor of the Year for the State of Illinois by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials.
Chicago’s 9-1-1 Center is the home of several award-winning call takers, dispatchers and training personnel, with outstanding achievements recognized nationally and statewide.
OEMC is proud of the commitment and contribution of Chicago's 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers and 3-1-1 non-emergency operators for their work on behalf of all those who live, work and play in Chicago.
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