The Call - Winter 2013 - (Page 37)

F E AT U R E MAKE AN IMPACT 9-1-1 GOES TO WASHINGTON, TO BE HELD MARCH 17-20, IS A VALUABLE EDUCATIONAL AND NETWORKING OPPORTUNITY By Renee Hardwick, ENP, Conway, South Carolina Never underestimate the importance of our right to vote. 9-1-1 Goes to Washington (9-1-1 GTW) is a valuable educational and networking opportunity and has always shown me the impact that our decisions at the ballot box can have. I have had the opportunity to attend every 9-1-1 GTW, and fortunately, there has always been at least one of my fellow South Carolinians in attendance as well. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been left alone to handle meetings with members of Congress or their staff! During the first or second year I attended GTW, I handled some appoints on the Hill by myself. Talk about being nervous! I just knew I would either not deliver the message or not be able to answer questions, which was mindblowing since I had been in public safety for more than 20 years. (Of course, I always say if you think you know or have seen it all it’s time to get out the business!) Even those first meetings were great opportunities, though, and they got easier each time as I learned more and more about the people I was dealing with and how Congress works. NENA staff always does a great job educating us about the oddities of Washington, DC, and I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned from our staff, and from my own experience in meeting with members of Congress and congressional staffers. First off, the person you meet with may look (and be) fresh-out-of-college. Don’t ever dismiss their influence and ability to get things done! Those young staffers are a lot like our front line call takers/dispatchers: They’re the first contact with a congressional office, making it very important to get our message across to them. Learning how congressional offices work will give you the confidence to ask for what we need as well as an understanding of what an individual office can and can’t do for us. Second, there is nothing like sharing an actual event/incident that happened in the member’s home district. This helps them connect on a more personal level. On occasion we have had industry lobbyists attend some of our meetings. Lobbyists show support from the industry, which is very important to achieving any success, in my opinion. At the same time, seeing the interaction between a lobbyist and a member or staffer taught me that it’s us they want to hear from. 9-1-1 GTW event’s will truly teach you that it takes attendees from the government and private side working together to accomplish any success. Finally, “networking” at GTW isn’t limited to colleagues from around the country, but includes the relationships you build with staff members of the congressional offices and the FCC. If you are honest, available and helpful, you can become the person a member or staffer calls on when there is a question about one of the many complicated 9-1-1 issues that come up in Washington. One of the hardest things to do is set up appointments with congressional offices, but each year it becomes easier because of the relationships I’ve built from the previous years. The government side of 9-1-1 is very small. That’s why networking is critical to achieving any success. Networking allows for input from all parties prior to action with any legislation, rules or mandates. It is always better to work together in the beginning and be part of the solution! Of course, there’s a lot more to learn than just these three points. It takes time and effort to build support for legislation and actually get movement on it. But the reward is amazing when you see legislation, grants, bipartisan letters of support for 9-1-1, or rule changes from the FCC. To actually be part of the process that makes a difference with 9-1-1 (the heartbeat of public safety and true first responders) that results in life-saving technology implementation, procedures, regulations and laws gives you a real sense of pride and confirmation that what we do does matter. See you in Washington! Read the digital edition at 37

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Winter 2013

President's Message
From the CEO
Government Affairs
Tech Trends
Education & Operational Issues
Creating an Emergency Communications Center
Quality Improvement for Quality Assurance
Hurricane Isaac TX-TERT Deployment
Meet the Challenge
Make an Impact
Index to Advertisers/

The Call - Winter 2013