Journal Staff


Norman Rivera

Toronto EMS (TEMS)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Rivera’s first trip to NAVIGATOR far exceeded his expectations; at least that’s the perspective from his first day at the conference from inside the gala event preceding the first full day of sessions. Rivera, a medical dispatcher for eight years, was the TEMS recipient of the Communicator of the Year Award, which included his trip to NAVIGATOR. He was looking forward to the educational sessions scheduled over the next three days.

Jyl McGonigal

Toronto EMS (TEMS)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

NAVIGATOR 2014 was the ninth conference McGonigal has attended since 2002 (missing only two during the span of years). McGonigal credits Brett Patterson, IAED Medical Council of Standards chair, for originally inspiring her dedication to protocol. “He was incredibly passionate about the protocol when he came to Toronto to teach the EMD course,” she said. “What he had to say clicked with me. I instantly wanted to learn more.”

Andrea McLean and Nancy McCullery

Red Deer Emergency Services

Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

McLean and McCullery made it a point to drop by the 911 CARES booth at NAVIGATOR since it’s another great venue at the conference for talking with others from outside their center. NAVIGATOR is also the place where they learn ways to improve what they’re doing (which must be great considering the almost non-existent turnover in a center that employs 130 people—including 17 dispatchers—and provides fire and EMS in a central part of the province).

Holli Jordan

Lee County Public Safety

Fort Myers, Fla.

The self-proclaimed 9-1-1 and Walt Disney World Resort fanatic—although not necessarily in that order—said NAVIGATOR keeps her as well-versed in protocol as her family’s frequent trips to the theme parks keep her up on the magic of Disney. Jordan knows where to get the best food, the best place to watch the fireworks, and the best time to visit (Christmas). She’s just as passionate about her job, and that’s after 26 years in the profession. “Every time you answer the phone, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “And on top of that, we get to help people. How many others can say that about their jobs?”

Jenna Armstrong and Kim Boyd

Colorado Springs Public Safety Communications Center

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Armstrong and Boyd are in the profession for the long haul. “It’s a career for me,” said Armstrong, who has been in 9-1-1 communications for 11 years. Boyd, who has been a dispatcher for nine years, feels the same way. “This isn’t a job for me,” she said. “I want to be that person who can help when the call comes in.” Both women applied for “the job”—as they thought about it at the time—without knowing exactly what they were getting into. Now, they wouldn’t leave 9-1-1 for anything because where else can you find something that helps people, while at the same time is exciting and gives you an opportunity to attend a “great conference”?

Chuck Thompson and Cliveica Caesar

Grady EMS

Atlanta, Ga.

Caesar, center director, and Thompson, an EMD-Q, find training and quality assurance critical to the welfare of their callers and the well-being of staff. “We all worry about the patient,” Caesar said. “By making sure we’re doing it right, we know we can make that difference in a person’s life.” Caesar was put to the “Q” test not too long ago when taking a call involving a 4-year-old choking on a hotdog. “Staff was listening,” she said. “It was like all of us were together in that moment.” This is the third NAVIGATOR for Caesar and the first for Thompson. “I really looked forward to meeting so many people interested in the same thing,” Thompson said. “Now we get to bring back what we’ve learned.”

Virginia Szatkowski

City of Lawton Emergency Communications

Lawton, Okla.

NAVIGATOR 2014 was the third conference in as many years for Szatkowski, a training coordinator and Q at the City of Lawton comm. center. Szatkowski looks forward to attending the sessions, networking, and meeting the “rock stars” of the profession (Dr. Jeff Clawson, Brian Dale, Brett Patterson, Chris Bradford, and Alan Fletcher, to name a few). “Coming here gives me a real feel for what it’s all about,” she said. “It’s amazing. We’ve been EMD certified since 1995 and, at this point, we don’t know what we’d do without it.”

Vicki Kovalsky

Memphis Fire Department

Memphis, Tenn.

NAVIGATOR wouldn’t be the same without Kovalsky—featured on the cover of the NAVIGATOR 2011 issue of The Journal. She’s attended the conference in the years even before it was known as NAVIGATOR. “I’ve watched it grow from a roundtable with Dr. Jeff Clawson to the size it is today, and it’s always been my favorite conference,” said Kovalsky, who has been with the Memphis Fire Department comm. center for 24 years and now Qs full time. “I always have questions, and I arrive with lots of them, eager to get them answered.”

Alexandra “Allie” Foley

Palmer Police Department 911 Communication Center

Palmer, Alaska

Foley left her job at a hospital to help care for her grandmother when she decided, also, to call the 9-1-1 center to observe what the work involves. She was sold. “It was exciting and looked really interesting,” she said. “I applied and here I am. I love my job. Every day is a school day because I’m always learning something.” Foley was recently one of four dispatchers at the center to provide Pre-Arrival Instructions in the delivery of four babies on four separate occasions. “It was nerve-wracking, scary, and exciting all at the same time,” she said.