Within the Trenches Scholarship - 2016 National NENA Conference
For over 13 years I answered the call of those who needed help. I have listened to couples yell and swear at each other over the phone while their kids cried in the background, the heavy breathes of someone terrified that they will be found while hiding from an intruder and the sound of mourning as a loved one has taken their last breath. I have also listened to a frantic father as his wife gave birth to their child, the tears of joy as the Heimlich instructions I gave helped a mother dislodge hard candy from her child's throat, and the feeling of satisfaction from talking down a suicidal subject. I have also sat on the radio while an officer yelled out, "SHOTS FIRED, OFFICER HIT" while my team and I sat in horror, speechless and listening to voices to figure out who was shot. I've listened to an officer call for back up while out with a known felon and stared at the monitor in slow motion as backup made their way to assist their brother in blue. I have also cracked jokes with fellow dispatchers and officers during a shift on situations and topics that only we would understand. I have taken every call that you can think of and worked almost every emergency situation and I survived. I have to thank my co-workers and all those in the field throughout Allegan County, MI for helping me. We worked like a well oiled machine and I will always be grateful to you. Throughout the years we shared our knowledge and triumphed on nights that felt like they would never end and were impossible to handle. It was through that shared knowledge that made us great. Towards the end of my dispatch career I took this idea of shared knowledge and decided to venture out. I attended my first NENA conference in 2012 not knowing what to expect. I was under the assumption that this would be one long week of classes where I would be bored out of my mind but I was wrong. I was hooked and grateful that I was given the opportunity to attend. A few years prior to the 2012 conference I hit the dispatch burn out stage. It was horrible. I was working an ungodly amount of overtime, I hardly saw my family and I was going to school full-time. I began working on a school project that lit my passion on fire and is the earliest version of the podcast I created, Within the Trenches. I also began to write about my experience in dispatch and after Michigan NENA my passion for 9-1-1 was on.
What solidified my passion at the conference was meeting people who did the same thing I did every day. I spoke to people who had taken similar calls and understood what it was like on the other side of the line. It's something I can't explain, you have to experience it. Now, some might say that their experience was dull and nothing like mine but my thought is that you have to put yourself out there. Jump out of your comfort zone and talk, learn and share your knowledge. The following year I had a popular blog where I shared my 9-1-1 experience and the beginning of my podcast. At the 2013 Michigan NENA conference I spoke for the first time about my dispatch story and the show. I also recorded a handful of episodes and from there I was jolted to the national conference in Charlotte, NC. I met so many people at the conference. I interviewed industry partners, dispatch directors and the unsung heroes of 9-1-1, dispatch. It was an amazing experience!
Recently, NENA and Friends of 911 started a scholarship that would send dispatchers to the national conference. I have been lucky enough to interview the dispatchers who were awarded the scholarship since the time it started. Later this month they will start up the registration process for the scholarship and it makes me wish I had had the opportunity to apply back when I was in dispatch but in the end I found my own way. Because of my experience with NENA, I want to create my own scholarship through the podcast. I have spoken to a few people within NENA to make this happen and they like the idea. This is not to take away from what they are doing, it is to add to what they are doing. With that said I am looking for sponsors to help make this happen. The scholarship will cover the conference registration, a one-day training course and a $500 travel stipend. The total value will be just under $2,000. Your sponsorship will get you advertising on the podcast as well as the blog and all of my social media outlets. The difference will be covered by merchandise sold through the podcast. Instructions on how dispatchers can register for this scholarship will be released in the next week. A link for two of the products are found below along with t-shirts coming soon. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can work together to sweeten the deal in return for your participation.
The Within the Trenches Podcast Scholarship is something I have thought about for a while and now I am going to make it a reality. Let's help a 9-1-1 dispatcher out there attend this conference and experience something amazing. My ride started in Allegan and has continued through organizations like NENA and the company I work for, INdigital. I continue to do what I do because I believe everyone has a story to tell and by telling those stories we share knowledge.
Daughters of Dispatch - Nine One One Original 5X5 Vinyl Decal - Link
Sons of Dispatch - Nine One One Original 5X5 Vinyl Decal - Link