Saturday, April 18, 2015

Accidental Calls... Don't Hang Up!!

Ever get a call from a loved one or good friend, and when you answer there is no one on the other end?  You can hear them giggling or chatting away... but its not to you!  I've heard friends singing at full volume... out of tune... to the radio unaware that I can hear them also.  You too then have been a victim of a "Pocket Dial."

This recent phenomena, which may cause a little embarrassment to the caller and a little frustration or entertainment to the call receiver, has also become a problem when that number dialed is 9-1-1.I am sure like me, you have seen people store cell phones on their bodies everywhere.  Anywhere from pockets, and socks to even bras.  Yes people have become resourceful in how they keep this modern day life line with them at all times.  

Or how many of you have given your old phone to your child to play with?  Did you know, that as long as that old phone has a battery charge, it can still call 9-1-1?  If you do decide to let your child have your old phone, take out the battery.

These accidental calls now make up about Twenty Percent of all calls to CRESA 911.  That may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in that by state law CRESA 911 needs to call you back, to verify there actually is not an emergency it starts to really add up!!

What Can You do to be Part of the Solution?

  • Use your cellphone's key lock to help prevent accidental calls
  • Protect your cellphone by locking and storing it carefully
  • Don't allow children to play with your phones
  • Programming 9-1-1 into your causes accidental calls.  Instead, teach children how to dial 9-1-1.

What Can You do if You Accidentally call 9-1-1?

Stay on the line, and tell dispatchers that it was an accident. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have.  Staying on the line helps ensure that you are OK.  It also helps save time by not having to call you back or the sending of a law enforcement officer to verify you are alright.  

Recording: Cathy Field - Mason County, Roxanne Castleman - Pierce County 
 Radio Station: KGHP - 89.9 FM Gig Harbor, Washington 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Thank You from Our Director

Here At CRESA we are Very proud of the awesome staff that makes up all of CRESA's three divisions.  This week has allowed us to highlight our largest department, 9-1-1 Operations.  Below are a few words from CRESA Director Anna Pendergrass in regards to this awesome team....   We've also created a video highlighting there awesomeness!! 


Please join me in paying tribute to our 9-1-1 Dispatchers as we celebrate National Telecommunicators Week this week.

Our dispatchers are the true “First, first responders” and the “Voice of 9-1-1”. They are the first and strongest link in the chain of survival and because of this, many lives are saved. They quietly go about their duties, often-times under trying and stressful conditions, while remaining calm and in control. They work together as a well-oiled team, coordinating resources and responses, ensuring that assistance is rendered quickly and accurately.

They are the ones who give the highest priority to making sure that their “officers” on the street make it home safely each night, whether it be law enforcement, fire or EMS. As the dispatching profession has grown with the advancement of technology and the job has become more and more difficult, our dedicated professionals have risen to the challenge. As the economy has taken a down-turn and extraneous duties have been transferred to our dispatchers, they have done their best to accommodate those extra tasks and handle them with professionalism and attention to duty.

I am very PROUD of the men and women who sit behind the mic 24/7/365 and “Answer The Call”!  These individuals truly represent our CRESA Values:

·         Dedication is a commitment to our task and purpose. We are dedicated to the organization, each other, our families, and the community we serve.
·         Integrity is the cornerstone of our profession. We value ethical conduct and public trust. We are people of character and principle that are committed to upholding our position of trust.
·         Creativity is thinking broadly and strategically. We are inventive and innovative yet practical when creating solutions to difficult challenges.
·         Passion is driven by a desire for excellence. We care deeply about the people that need our help. We inspire the best of our colleagues and ourselves.
·         Communication is required to effectively serve. We are part of a community. We consider all to be valued partners in our drive to fulfill our mission.
·         Concern is a desire to support others. We know others may depend on us during times of high stress and naturally give them our support.

Please take a moment to reflect on the great job they do and if you get the opportunity please tell them “THANK YOU”! 

Anna Pendergrass, Director of 911 & Emergency Mgt

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Is That Giant Bright Ball In The Sky?

With local temperatures reaching almost 80 degrees by the end of the week soggy residents of the Pacific  Northwest will gravitate towards the warm glow of the long awaited spring sun.  Even though the weather this winter has been unseasonably mild the first 80 degree day is something to celebrate.

As a lifelong Pacific Northwestern-er I have endured many "web foot" jokes and inquires on how I could enjoy living in such a grey and dreary place.  It is no accident that the TV show Grim chose Portland as it's backdrop, /grim/ adjective: forbidding or uninviting.  If you were to visit this region on a random day in late November you may wonder what all of the hype is about.  You would most likely be met by a constant drizzle, aka light rain and cool temperatures.  If you are planning to visit the area within the next week you will understand why we welcome the spring sun so enthusiastically.

I don't want to rain on your parade, but as an Emergency Manager it is my responsibility to say "Have fun in the sun, but..."  As you rush out the door take precautions to protect yourselves from some of the hazards often associated with warm spring weather.  I'm not telling you not to go enjoy the sun, but just take a monument to ensure you do it safely.

Keep the Cars Cool

Every year we warn about not leaving children and/or pets in cars without proper ventilation.  With temperatures at 83 degrees, even the windows rolled down 2 inches, the temperature inside the car can reach 109 degrees in only 15 minutes.  Your car literally becomes an oven where serious injury and death can occur within minutes.  Please plan your day in advance to avoid leaving pets and children in hot cars.

Warning, The Water You Are About to Enjoy Is Cold

Every spring there are news stories about accidents on the water.  Though there are numerous causes of these accidents most could have been preventable.  This weekend swimmers and boaters will flock to the watering holes throughout the region.  Some general reminders about water safety include, but are not limited to:

  • Always wear a personal flotation device
  • Test water temperature before taking the "leap of faith"
  • Closely monitor children, form a "buddy system"
  • Drink alcoholic beverages responsibly
  • Beware of rocks just below the water's surface
  • Apply ample sunscreen often
I hope everyone has an amazing weekend.  Despite my warnings of some key isolated situations spring is a glorious time of year in the region.   I am hoping that we don't end the weekend with news stories about sad accidents in the sun.   Take the time to plan ahead to help ensure everyone has a great time in the sun, and save a spot for me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Here You Are To Help Save The Day!!

If you were like me growing up, at one point in time, when asked what you wanted to be growing up, you probably answered a "Super Hero."  I think most young boys and girls at some time in their young lives have tied a towel around their necks, and with arms outstretched have run around as if we could take flight and single-handedly capture the bad guys and save the day.

Even in the world of comics, there are Super Hero Crime Fighting Teams working together to catch the bad guy.  From Justice League, Avengers, Watchmen, and even the PowerPuff Girls, teams have worked together to save the day.

Our Crime-Fighting Team Begins With You 

Truth be told, even in the real world, it takes a team working together to fight crime and making sure our little corner on this planet is safe.  Most may think that team begins with dispatchers or first responders, but actually that crime fighting team begins with you... when you call 9-1-1!

You become our eyes and ears, to what is happening, and ensuring 9-1-1 Dispatch sends the right people to assist.   As part of this crime fighting team, we need you to use your special skills and keep calm, to be able to answer the questions asked.  Dispatch Staff may seem stern and rude at times, but in fact they are there to guide you through the information they truly need.  In a crisis situation, as humans, we have a tendency to start to ramble.  The Dispatcher is there to keep you to the facts, to get the right help to you as soon as possible.  Please understand they are trained "Super-Hero's"  doing their part, just as you, to support that crime-fighting team.

We've included a couple fun links for you to think about your inner Crime-Fighter.  Take the Super Hero Quiz we found to see what kind of Super-Hero you would be.  If  you are like me and have thought about creating your own Super-Hero... We found this site for you.  Click Here.  Lastly,we have also included some fun reading about Super Hero Crime-Fighting Teams.

Bonus points: if you read this to the end and took the quiz... Be sure to share with us via Facebook or Twitter what Super Hero you are!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

What To Expect... When You Dial 9-1-1

Calling 9-1-1 is serious business.  We want you to call 9-1-1 to receive help for emergencies, potential emergencies, or if you are not sure if it’s an emergency.  But what happens when you call for help?  What should you say? What does the person on the other line need to know?  What if you forget something?

Dispatchers are trained to pull and assess information from a caller. Expect them to guide you with questions.  They know what information they need to get first in order to ensure the right type of help arrives in a timely manner, and the best way to get the assistance you need is to answer the questions in the order they ask them.
Here’s a quick guide to help us help you:
  • If you speak another language or dialect tell us right away. At push of a button, we can connect to a translator.  CRESA has translated 9-1-1 calls in more than 170 languages.
  • Let the dispatcher know what is happening. Is there a crime in progress? Is there a fire?  Does someone need medical help? This information lets our dispatchers know what type of help you need.
  • We want to know where the situation is occurring. Provide an exact address if you know it and don’t forget the floor and apartment number if you are in a building.  Unsure of where you are?  A nearby intersection or landmark will help.
  • When did the incident occur? It is important to know if this is an active situation so our dispatchers can prepare the first responders know what to expect.
  • Let us know who is involved. We want to know if it a family member, someone you know, or a stranger.  It also helps to know if there are multiple people involved and who they are.
  • If weapon was used then let us know. Telling a dispatcher about weapons helps keep the public and first responders safe.
  • Tell us if anyone is injured. If someone is hurt, our dispatchers will ask you a series of questions to determine what type of care is needed.  Our dispatchers are also trained to provide medical instruction until a medic arrives.
It is important to remember the type of response is based on the emergency.  CRESA's 9-1-1 call center receives more than 1,000 calls per day.  Not every call can or should involve emergency units traveling at high speeds with lights flashing and sirens blaring.  This type of response comes with inherent risk for the public and the first responders, but is rightly reserved for life-threatening emergencies.
We hope you rarely have to call 9-1-1.  But if you you or someone else is experiencing an emergency, then keep these tips in mind.  Our 9-1-1 dispatchers will help you get the help that you need in a timely manner.

Myth Busters: Cell Phones and 9-1-1, Do They Tell Us Where You Are??

There are a couple myths about how much information cell phones provide to 9-1-1 when they are used: 

Myth #1:  When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, there is no guarantee that your call will go to the intended 9-1-1 call center, especially along the Columbia River corridor. 

Cell phone calls are sent through a cell phone tower – usually one that is in close proximity to your location.  The 9-1-1 center your call is routed to is based on the location of that cell phone tower.

If that cell phone tower is busy, your call may be routed through other cell towers.  In Clark County if you call from near or around the Columbia River, you call may be routed to Multnomah or Columbia counties. 

A 9-1-1 call taker will generally always ask you for your location to confirm where you are so that we know how to get you the best and quickest help.  Since many addresses involve streets that can also exist in nearby counties, ALWAYS give your city in addition to your street address.

Myth #2:  Even if your cell phone has geo-location services enabled, 9-1-1 dispatchers do not always receive exact address information from cell phone callers.

Location information received by a 9-1-1 center from a cell phone can range in accuracy so do not assume the call taker can find you through your cell phone’s GPS.  Generally, the 9-1-1 calls are routed correctly, however cell phone calls are transferred to other 9-1-1 centers every day.

Two basic reminders….
  • Know your location when you call 9-1-1
  • If you call from a cell phone, give your street address AND your city.
CRESA also has “Know Your Location” posters that can be requested by agencies who wish to more prominently display location-based information for callers to 9-1-1.

These signs have already been placed throughout the Westfield Shopping Town to provide callers with specific information about the locations of particular stores. 

All school districts have received these posters and we encourage businesses, assisted living facilities and other larger residential locations to post their address visibly so that it can be seen by people who may need to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.   

Help Us Celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators.  It was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (CA) Sheriff's Office in 1981 after the Sheriff overlooked telling Dispatch that he was taking the administrative support team to lunch.  By the early 1990's the national APCO organization convinced congress for a formal proclamation that was signed by President Bush in 1992.  To read more about how Patricia got the movement started you can click here.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week helps recognize the more than 500,000 telecommunications specialists nation-wide for an amazing job done in providing excellent public safety.

During the coming week, we will focus on several topics near and dear to our local dispatch staff and what they want you to know to help CRESA help You!  We will of course also highlight our awesome staff and the amazing job they do 24/7.

A Tribute To Dispatchers

      Dispatchers are expected to have:

the compassion of Mother Theresa
the wisdom of Solomon
the interviewing skills of Oprah Winfrey
the gentleness of Florence Nightingale
the patience of Job
the voice of Barbara Streisand
the knowledge of Einstein
the answers of Ann Landers
the humor of David Letterman
the investigative skills of Sgt. Joe Friday
the looks of Melanie Griffith or Don Johnson
the faith of Billy Graham
the energy of Charo
and the endurance of the Energizer Bunny

Exert from "A Tribute To Dispatchers" by Chief Thomas Wagner, Loveland Police Dept, 1994

To read the entire Tribute, click here.  

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Island and the Hole

Earthquakes, floods, EMP, disease outbreaks, power outages, bridge collapse cyber-attacks, wildfires, storms, sinkholes, landslides, hazardous materials, terrorism, zombies, oh my!  There’s a lot to think about in your personal preparedness.   We’d like to suggest a much simpler way to think about disaster planning:

Imagine that the place that you live in is suddenly in one of two situations.

Scenario 1: The Island

Imagine that suddenly and without warning your home becomes an island.

You are completely isolated from every link to the outside world.  That means no power, no phone, no 911, no cable, no internet, no water service, no sewer (AKA, no flushing), no gas, no roads, and no services.  And no boats!  That’s cheating.  Now, how would you get prepared for this?  How would you ride it out in your island home?

While this scenario isn't likely, unless your home is subject to very unique flooding situations, it can serve as a helpful planning scenario.  Different disasters can create these conditions.  Earthquakes can damage roads, pipelines, and supply lines.  Floods can contaminate drinking water.  Storms can cut power, telephone, cable, and so on.  This island scenario is just a shorthand way to plan for several of these conditions at once. 

But if you are only prepared for the island scenario, you’ll still have gaps in your preparedness, which is why you need to think about the reverse scenario:

Scenario 2: The Hole

Imagine that in five minutes your home will become a hole . . . or maybe a smoking hole if you want to add drama. 

That means you've got to evacuate quickly with your family, pets, and all the essentials.  What things would want to escape with so that you could ensure your health and safety and so that you could recover and get your life back together.  Where would you go?  Where would you meet up with other family members if you were separated?

Here again, this isn't a likely scenario, unless you have mortal enemies with access to bombs.  But there are a number of situations that could create a similar situation.  Homes struck by tornadoes, fires, storm surges, or tsunamis may just leave a foundation.  In chemical spills or other emergencies you may be restricted from coming back to your home.
The island and the hole approach gives you a simplified way to think about what you need to be prepared for both situations.  You need to have a plan for if you are stuck at home AND if you can’t go home.  The island and the hole pulls it all together and can help you decide on what’s really important.

So take some time now to use your imagination in a deep and meaningful way to improve your preparedness.  Think hard about how you would react to these two scenarios and then take action to get prepared.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

        Update: Child located safe as of 0130 1 April. AMBER ALERT has been cancelled. 





 2065832111 IMMEDIATELY.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

You Too Can Be a Hero!!

Imagine waking to the ground shaking.  Things falling and breaking, entire buildings swaying if not falling.  Cracks opening up in roadways, bridges falling, power lines down, water lines rupturing.  It's a scene out of many disaster movies.

We have all seen scenes like this play out in movies time and time again, In fact there is a new movie coming out in May that will highlight a major disaster in this country and highlight how one hero will be shown to be the saving grace for many.   Hollywood likes to focus on one action hero saving many, but in reality, many true hero's that will likely arise is a situation like this. Everyday people who will come together and work as a team to help each other out until other help arrives!!

I think the majority of people understand that when and if something bad happens where you live, there never will be enough, firefighters, law enforcement officers, utility workers, road crews, nurses, and the list goes on.

It's easy to stick our heads in the sand and pretend something bad wont happen, but the reality is, it could happen anytime.  Understanding the risk, just as in any risk is important in the choices we make.  Personally I prefer being part of the solution, not the problem.

Surviving a major disaster will take everyone coming together and working together to responding as a neighborhood, and community to ensure those who need help the most get it along with getting us back on our feet.

I recently completed CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Training.  The basic skills I learned from preparedness, to basic first aid, fire suppression and search and rescue techniques can really come in handy, not only when the bad thing happens but in how I look at everyday situations

Our next class is coming up in April.  Do you have what it takes to help be part of the solution and be a true hero when emergencies happen?  For More information on CERT, please see

See pictures from the last CERT class on our Flickr Page