HOLBROOK — As National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week draws to a close, Director Steve Hooke and the Holbrook Regional Emergency Communications Center would like to share with the public some of the individuals who make up the HRECC’s team of telecommunicators.
During the week of April 11-17, public safety agencies take time to reflect on the critical role telecommunications professionals play in supporting first responders. National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, sponsored by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, honors the thousands of men and women across the country who respond to emergency calls, dispatch first responders and equipment, and render life-saving assistance to residents.
Below are just a few of the men and women who make up HRECC’s team of highly-trained and skilled telecommunicators:
Role with HRECC: 911 telecommunicator
Time with HRECC: I started as a telecommunicator in 2009, and was promoted to supervisor in 2015.
Previous work in public safety: I was an EMS dispatcher for eight years.
Outside interests: Hiking in the woods with my dog or going for a long drive with no real destination in mind.
Most challenging part of your career: Keeping calm during highly stressful situations.
Most rewarding part of your career: When someone says “thank you” at the end of a bad call. Getting a “thank you” from the person you’re helping goes a long way.
Message to the public about calling 911: First and foremost is, give the address or location of the emergency right away, always answering questions that are asked (there is a reason why we are asking questions), and never hanging up unless told to do so. If you mistakenly call 911, do NOT hang up.
Role with HRECC: Full-time public safety dispatcher
Time with HRECC: I was hired as a part-time dispatcher with HRECC in September 2020 and quickly moved up to full-time dispatcher at the end of January 2021.
Previous work in public safety: I was a Public Safety dispatcher for the Town of Avon dispatching for Avon Police and Fire.
Outside interests: I enjoy playing with my 1-year-old daughter and spending time with my fiancé.
Most challenging part of your career: The emotions. I am not a particularly empathetic person, but I reflect on every call. I sit and I think, “What could I have done differently?” or “What could I have done better?” On really bad calls, I take them home. Not on purpose, but because dispatchers are human too, and I think a lot of people forget that.
Most rewarding part of your career: The family that comes with it. We as dispatchers are in the trenches together. We deal with stressful situations on a daily basis and we need to be able to rely on each other when times get tough. We also spend hours on end in the same room with each other. And it’s not just a dispatch family — the departments we dispatch for become family as well. We become close with the police officers, the firefighters, and the paramedics.
Message to the public about calling 911: When we are on a call we are asking a lot of questions, and to the caller these questions may seem trivial, but to us, they are giving important information, letting us know how severe the situation is and allowing us to inform paramedics, firefighters and police the extent of the situation before they get there. This is so they show up and know exactly what is going on and what kind of aid to render. We are trained to give lifesaving instructions over the phone.
Daniel M. Hart
Role at HRECC: 911 Regional Communications Supervisor, 911 Database Liaison, Certified Training Officer
Time with HRECC: I started working at HRECC in February 2012 as a telecommunicator and was promoted to supervisor in 2019.
Previous work in public safety: In 1999 I started as a call firefighter/EMT-B for the Town of Avon. I am now a Call Lt. EMT-B entering my 22nd year.
Outside interests: Watching my girls play sports along with coaching them, camping, and watching the Bruins.
Most challenging part of your career: Not knowing what is on the other side of the phone at times.
Most rewarding part of your career: Helping people during the crisis they are in.
Message to the public about calling 911: If you dial 911 by accident, please stay on the phone and provide the answers the telecommunicator needs to ask. They are asking for you safety.
Role at HRECC: Part-time telecommunicator
Time with HRECC: I have been here for seven years.
Previous work in public safety: I worked for the Franklin Fire Department for two years.
Outside interests: I enjoy spending time with my granddaughters and tending my flock of 15 chickens.
Most challenging part of your career: All the moving parts that we have to deal with every time 911 rings and someone asks for service.
Most rewarding part of your career: I enjoy working with a great team, not only the telecommunicators but the firefighters and police officers. Also, knowing that we help people in their times of need.
Message to the public about calling 911: Please stay on the line, do not hang up. That makes our job more difficult.
Role at HRECC: Telecommunicator.
Time with HRECC: I have been with HRECC for five years. I am a part-time dispatcher, but we joke that I am the “full-time” part-time dispatcher.
Previous work in public safety: I started out working in public safety while I was in college at Northeastern University. After I graduated from college, I got a position in the Boston Police Department as a 911 operator and then as a police dispatcher for three years in the department. I then worked a year in Dedham as a police/fire dispatcher. After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years I was ready to go back to work, and that is when I found HRECC.
Outside interests: Outside of work I enjoy working out, walking and staying active. I took up golf three years ago so I enjoy going out and playing golf when the weather is nice.
Most challenging part of your career: I think the most challenging part of this career is leaving your day at the door when you leave, and not taking your work home with you.
Most rewarding part of your career: The most rewarding part of my career is helping people on their worst day.
Message to the public about calling 911: The one thing I would want the public to know in the event they have to call 911 is to try and stay calm so we can get the important information from them and start sending help their way.
Role at HRECC: I am a dispatcher as well as the HRECC/Norfolk County Control Radio Technician, Staff Com-L/Com-T
Time with HRECC: I was hired as a part-time dispatcher in January 2016 and promoted to full-time in May of 2017. I started assuming the role of radio technician in August 2019
Previous work in public safety: Prior to joining the HRECC I became a member and now Vice President and Crew Chief of the Boston Sparks Association A10 Rehab and Support Services Unit in May 2012. While with the Sparks I have learned a lot about the Field Operations side of incidents.
Most challenging part of your career: The most challenging part of the job would have to be balancing multiple calls in multiple towns at once. It’s like a being a conductor of the Boston Pops, making sure everything goes as planned and everyone gets the right calls at the right time and not missing a beat.
Most rewarding part of your career: As cliché as it may sound, it’s getting everyone home safe and helping the people in their time of need. It takes a special breed to do our job and call it a career.
Message to the public about calling 911: Don’t ever hesitate to call 911 or ask for help. That’s what we are here for. Whether it is a small problem or big problem we answer any and all requests for help. From stubbed toes to building fires, solicitors to shots fired, we are here 24/7 to answer your call.
Role at HRECC: Supervisor/dispatcher. I am also the car seat technician for HRECC.
Time with HRECC: I started in 2012 as a telecommunicator and was promoted to supervisor May 4, 2018
Previous work in public safety: I was a first responder back in the 1970s, then worked in healthcare for 30 years and then I worked in financial companies’ IT departments. I have been an EMT for a couple of years working for an ambulance company, manager for three outpatient clinics for a major downtown hospital.
Outside interests: To de-stress I love to garden, genealogy research, hanging with family and friends, and karate.
Most challenging part of your career: To leave the calls at work. The ability to switch between home and work. I admit somedays are more interesting than others.
Most rewarding part of your career: When you have a difficult call and you find out that the individuals will be OK. Knowing that you were a part of helping the individual, especially when you assist a caller with CPR, choking, seizures and so forth. Some days it is just being a comfort to the person on the other end and helping them through their crisis. We stay on the phone until help arises, so they do not feel they are alone. We are with them, even though we are not sitting beside them.
Message to the public about calling 911: The most important thing is to state your location, including your town, then what the emergency is. We need to understand where you are calling from. Our response could be delayed if we cannot tell responders the call location. If you text 911, put your location in the initial 911 text.
Richard G. Blais
Role at HRECC: Dispatcher Group D
Time with HRECC: I was hired full-time on July 5, 2019.
Previous work in public safety: I was previously a firefighter/EMT for the Providence, R.I. Fire Department for 30-plus years. I did 11 years in EMS, 14 years fire companies and my last five years as an instructor in the department training division. During my time I worked approximately two and a half years in the Bureau of Operational Control as a shift supervisor at the rank of Lieutenant. After retiring in 2015 I worked full-time as an EMS instructor/coordinator running a training school with 30 instructors and holding 30 full-time and part-time classes a year. I started out as a part-time civilian dispatcher from 1982 to 1984.
Outside interests: I am an amateur photographer of fire ground and emergency services and enjoy doing construction on my home as well as my daughter’s new house.
Most challenging part of your career: Having to separate myself from my years as a line firefighter and officer to being behind the scene of a call. But I also consider this my motivation to do my job. Having been in several different situations I feel I have a good Idea of what may be happening on the scene and anticipate requests and understand from the radio conversations when things are going well or bad, and adjust to what I hear.
Most rewarding part of your career: Working with some very talented people from top to bottom.
Message to the public about calling 911: As hard as it is for you to stay calm, please try to do so. We are here to help you by first getting the information needed to start the appropriate response, but we are also here to help in delivering essential lifesaving early care if needed. From talking people through CPR to bleeding control to even childbirth if needed. We are here to help.
Role at HRECC: Emergency 911 Telecommunicator and Communications Training Officer, CTO.
Time with HRECC: I started as a telecommunicator in 2018 and I will be coming into my third year. I recently just completed my course to become a training officer and have been training for only a few short weeks.
Previous work in public safety: I came from a ten year career in an ER/hospital setting as a phlebotomist.
Outside interests: In the summer my family and I love to enjoy our backyard. We have dinners outside, splash around the pool and s’mores around the fire pit.
Most challenging part of your career: Never knowing what to expect on the other end of the phone. As a 911 call taker I become invested in most of my calls and personally lack of closure is challenging for me as well. Not hearing the outcome in most cases sometimes is tough.
Most rewarding part of your career: Being part of a community of men and women who genuinely want to help others. It’s a challenge every day to balance the good with the bad.
Message to the public about calling 911: When you call 911 and speak with a dispatcher you have one maybe even two more dispatchers listening in on the call as well. It may seem like we ask a lot of questions but it is for a reason. We need to keep our officers safe before arriving. Stating the address of your emergency right away and confirming it is the most important. After that, the silent partner who is listening is simultaneously getting the appropriate trucks and officers out the door while the 911 call taker is gathering the rest of the information. Speaking clearly and remaining on the phone without terminating the call too soon is a huge help. 911 accidentals happen all the time and it is OK. Please just do not hang up. Simply just explain that it was a misdial.
“We thank each and every member of HRECC’s team of telecommunicators,” Director Hooke said. “They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, but they all come together for one goal, which is to assist the public in their time of need by acting as the ‘first of the first responders.’ We commend them for all that they do to keep the members of our communities safe.”