911 Dispatchers from Region Earn Certificates
4/30/2017 12:24:20 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.
[Story by Curtis C. Wynne - Hobbs News Sun]
The next time someone at White Sands Missile Range calls 911 for emergency help, the dispatcher answering the phone might have earned his certificate in Hobbs.
Dispatchers are the link between the person who needs help and the emergency responder. The information they receive and pass along often saves lives, including the public, the policeman, the firefighter and the medical personnel. From WSMR, Darrin Haslem received his Public Safety Telecommunicator Academy certificate Friday, along with 10 other students, at the New Mexico Junior College.
Haslem earned the top score in the three-week series of courses, but graciously credited his all-female classmates for making that happen.
“These women came every day with enthusiasm and a genuine desire to learn,” he said. That attitude made success in class more achievable.
After more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and the intelligence community, having served often as an instructor, he said he understands the challenges of the academy instructors, expressing his appreciation to them.
“You guys crammed years of knowledge and experience into us over the last three weeks and we all took different pieces of that to heart,” he said. “We’ll take that back to our centers and use it.”
Beginning his service as a dispatcher surprised Haslem to some extent.
years of knowledge and experience into us ... and we all took different pieces of that to heart. We’ll take that back to our centers and use it.’
White Sands Missile Range dispatcher
“A few months ago, I officially got my card from the American Association of Retired People,” he said. “When I joined the AARP, I never thought that a few months later I’d be embarking on a new career.”
He told the News-Sun he made the choice after his wife obtained work at WSMR.
Accredited by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, the NMJC branch of the academy is coordinated by the Lea County Communication Authority (LCCA).
LCCA Director Angela Martinez explained having the academy in Hobbs helps avoid sending employees from southern New Mexico to Santa Fe for training.
Other graduates Friday were Angelica Barrios, Carlsbad Police Department (CPD); Jessica Epps, Curry County Sheriff’s Office; Alisha Hanson, LCCA; Juliana Harrington, LCCA; Jennifer Hernandez, CPD; Ruby Lopez, CPD; Tamara Lynd, Regional Emergency Dispatch Authority (REDA); Tabitha Mack, REDA; Allison Meyers, REDA; and Rebecca Tabor, LCCA.
The REDA center is in Artesia and serves as the backup center for LCCA.
Hobbs Police Chief Chris McCall, who is also a member of the LCCA board of directors, offered the keynote speech, outlining the importance of the service given by dispatchers.
Expressing the seriousness of the work they do, he advised the audience — parents, children, spouses and friends — to be understanding, allow them their space when needed, give them a kind ear when asked and let them sleep when they’re working the night shift. To the graduating students, he said, “Yes, you’re entering a very serious profession. It is also one of the most rewarding professions out there.”
He pointed out those occasions when a dispatcher saves a life become the dispatcher’s rewards.
“Cherish those rewards,” he concluded.
Curtis Wynne may be contacted at 575-391-5436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: The graduating class of the Public Safety Telecommunicator Academy are, front row left to right, Angelica Barrios, Carlsbad Police Department (CPD); Jessica Epps, Curry County Sheriff’s Office; Alisha Hanson, LCCA; Juliana Harrington, LCCA; Darrin Haslem, White Sands Missle Range; and back row left to right, Jennifer Hernandez, CPD; Ruby Lopez, CPD; Tamara Lynd, Regional Emergency Dispatch Authority (REDA); Tabitha Mack, REDA; Allison Meyers, REDA; and Rebecca Tabor, LCCA.