Anthony Guido

Anthony Guido

Guest Writer

By Anthony Guido

We are once again in NAVIGATOR mode and at a “Disney-like” destination for adults like me who have a love for $5 blackjack tables, the sounds of ringing slot machines, and a boss picking up the tab at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill (wishful thinking?).

Vegas may not appeal to everyone, but to me it holds special place. I was a kid when first making the trek from New York to Vegas, spending summers with my grandparents who owned a print shop on the outskirts of a very lit-up city. I climbed Mount Charleston with my then-65-year-old grandfather and took trips to Lake Mead to see that Damn Dam Tour (Hoover Dam).

What does this have to do with your career in emergency communications? Everything, especially when it comes to stacking professional odds in your favor.

“Vegas” odds are that you will probably win some and lose some at the tables or slot machines, much like giving CPR instructions to a bystander for a patient in cardiac arrest, helping a scared caller find a place that’s safe in an active assailant incident, or calming a frightened caller reporting the details of a rapidly spreading structure fire. These situations don’t always go as we would like. This is where protocol proficiency and development change the game.

Like a blackjack card-counter who has the upper hand, chances are that you as an EMD, EFD, or EPD can beat the house and create winning outcomes when confidently telling your caller exactly what to do next. This is where your PAI “full house” comes into play.

That hasn’t always been the case, at least not when and where I started in the profession.

Some 15 years ago, dispatch was “just a job” and as many saw it, a relatively dead end one, with most taking the job as a cursory step to a career position as a firefighter, police officer, or paramedic. Dispatchers who found they liked the job and stayed (like yours truly) simply accepted the limitations in pay and advancement potential.

The job has since changed into a promising career largely due to the protocol system developed 36 years ago by Jeff Clawson, M.D. Over the years, his innovative protocols have revolutionized this previously lackluster industry, leading to multiple career paths in emergency communications (e.g., information technology, emergency preparedness, training, quality, supervision, management, customer service, public relations, and beyond). Each path offers unique challenges requiring specialized skill sets and training, resulting in agencies basing promotion on an individual’s skills and capabilities, rather than based solely on seniority.

We have choices.

How do you become the right person for the dispatch career you want?

Self-development is the key, and NAVIGATOR is the ideal venue to start. The conference provides tremendous opportunities to learn, network, mentor, and—as this year’s theme emphasizes—realize the next steps in building a long and satisfying career.

NAVIGATOR is about what we do and how we can improve, and it gives us the tools to reach our goals. NAVIGATOR is the industry standard in dispatch career development, and there are plenty of us willing and eager to help those at all levels.

This year’s NAVIGATOR features more than 100 educational sessions organized into several tracks focusing on research, technology, management, leadership, quality assurance, operations, protocol (fire, police, and medical), CDE & training, motivation, and stress management. The Special Interest track further prepares us in meeting the needs of our callers and responders.

The perceived lack of career opportunity—at least in the immediate future (such as that coveted position)—shouldn’t stop you from developing, stretching, learning, and networking with the best subject matter experts in the world. In fact, it’s the ideal time to prepare for the day your winning hand is dealt.