James Thalman

James Thalman


By James Thalman

The 2013 NAVIGATOR conference reaches new heights with a confluence of topics, product demonstrations, speakers, and views you can use, all in its native home of true grit and grandeur.

The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) and Priority Dispatch were founded in Salt Lake City, a place that until the mid-19th century was the roaming and hunting ground for such colorful figures as Jim Bridger and Jedediah Smith, who explored, trapped, and mingled with native Indian tribes including the Bannock, Shoshone, and Goshute.

Industry invariably changed the landscape; development became king. Mountain men became the stuff of lore. Indians were pushed farther north and west. Industry beckoning the “new immigrants” to a mile-high terrain drove Utah (statehood achieved 1896) along a path of alliance with innovation and an international attention:

• Mormon settlers devised a method to irrigate the desert that is used in arid lands around the world to this day.

• The digital world became a reality in Salt Lake City and nearby Provo with pioneering word processing and computer graphic design, from Pixar’s hopping desk lamp to the Apple iPhone 2012 app of the year.

• A coalition of Mormon, Jewish, and Catholic settlers built a public health and safety network that could be a national model for a modern hospital/clinic system of medical care if anyone in that field would take a closer look.

That amalgam of collaboration is the foundation of IAED Co-founder Dr. Jeff Clawson’s idea of structured dispatch that at last count is being used in nearly 3,000 emergency call centers in 43 countries staffed by 54,100 IAED-trained dispatchers.

NAVIGATOR Conference Coordinator Claire Colborn said April 16–19 will provide a unique conference experience both in location and content. The IAED/PDC headquarters recently relocated to a completely renovated 9-floor, 72,000-square-foot building in downtown Salt Lake City. The plate glass-dominated structure, which is about two blocks from the original home office and open to visit during the conference, is both the literal and metaphorical reflection of a company with a bright future.

Alan Fletcher, PDC president, said new company headquarters makes the Salt Lake City NAVIGATOR a special occasion, and the 2013 conference marks a defining point between the organization’s three decades of improving emergency dispatching across the world and the organization’s full realization of its role internationally.

“We couldn’t ask for a better location,” Fletcher said. “We’re in the heart of a downtown that’s turning heads here and abroad. We’re very excited about making the IAED a visible part of the skyline as well as a visible partner of this city’s influence around the world.”

Also on display downtown, just a several block walk or a short TRAX light-rail train ride from the conference site, is the city’s new Public Safety Building. The $125-million complex features what architects would like to be known as the “centerpiece of emergency dispatching worldwide.” The building will be in the last week of its construction schedule, so it won’t be occupied, but conference attendees will be invited on guided tours.

The structure, which is the first Net Zero Energy public building in the country—it produces as much power as it uses—will meet a multitude of needs for Salt Lake City public safety, including consolidating the administrative offices of the police and fire departments, centralizing dispatch, and acting as a disaster/emergency operations center. It replaces the tightly crammed building the agencies have occupied since 1958.

Courses at the conference range from how to survive shift work, to the power of peer case evaluations, to how not to sink in the rising tide of digital data. A full list of course sessions, listed by track, can be found by visiting

NAVIGATOR wouldn’t be complete without a number of between-days and off-hours socializing, including an official Opening Gala Reception and the annual Closing Luncheon with the Communication Center Manager (CCM) Graduation and the announcement of the recipient of the Dr. Jeff Clawson Leadership Award.

Keynote speakers include Jim Shea, Jr., gold medal winner in skeleton racing at the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City. Both his father and grandfather were Olympian competitors. His father competed in Nordic combined and cross-country skiing in the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. His grandfather won two speed skating gold medals in the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y.

Entertainer Jason Hewlett and the two dozen or so famous actors and personalities who reside in him will be the Closing Luncheon keynote speaker. The singer/piano player/humorist is a Salt Lake native who tours the corporate convention circuit but whose show is making wider ripples across the country. With a cast of character impressions ranging from Nat King Cole to Led Zeppelin, Hewlett’s show has been called “unique,” “a blast,” and “funnier than heck.”