Last week nearly 300 9-1-1 professionals in the great State of Michigan took over the Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island for the Inaugural Joint Conference between the state’s chapters of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). I was honored to spend the week with them.

The view of Lake Huron from Mackinac Island, Michigan.

I had this bleak misconception about the Great Lakes State. As a native of Southern California, I had this picture in my mind that Michigan was always blanketed under 4-feet of snow. I would be lucky if my plane even arrived at the airport because all flights would be grounded by a blizzard. However, it was quite the opposite. My connecting flight took me from the metropolis of Detroit to the rural woods of Pellston. As my plane descended for landing, I was awe-struck by the vast number of green trees as far as the eye could see. Countless smaller lakes shimmered in the sunshine under a clear blue sky. One dispatcher I met at the conference described this northern part of the lower peninsula of the state as “God’s country”.  

Mackinac Island is a small island in Lake Huron just between the upper and lower peninsulas. After taking a ferry to the island, visiting guests then had to travel to the hotel via horse and carriage because there are no cars on the island. It felt like stepping back in time to see part of the state’s rich history. There was a quiet peacefulness about it. At first, this seemed like an unusual place to have a professional conference to connect telecommunicators, industry partners, policy-makers, and stakeholders. Quiet peacefulness is not exactly something public-safety dispatchers experience in their working environments. On the contrary, the location was a strategic selection by the conference committee because it offered attendees the opportunity to find rest and recharge.

Meet dispatchers from Calhoun County Consolidated Dispatch Authority (MI).

The 911 Training Institute was proud to have been selected to present two breakout sessions at the conference. I presented Survive & Thrive: A Path through Trauma into Resilience; Jim Marshall presented 9-1-1 Peer Support: Protecting and Supporting of Our Own. We also had a booth set up in the Exhibit Hall. 

Over the course of the next few days during the conference, I had the pleasure of meeting several directors/managers, supervisors, and front-line dispatchers. I heard their personal stories. I was impressed and encouraged by their ability to adapt and overcome various professional challenges, proving dispatchers in Michigan are doing so much more than just surviving; they are thriving! Although I spent several years wearing a headset and sitting behind a console in California, I was most grateful to feel the warmest of welcomes by the Michigan 9-1-1 Family. Thank you all. 

On behalf of the 911 Training Institute and Jim Marshall, I would like to extend our gratitude to the Michigan APCO and NENA Executive Boards, the leaders who served on the conference committee, and all the volunteers who worked behind the scenes to make this year’s inaugural joint conference a great success and wonderful experience for all. We are already looking forward to next year’s conference.

Meet Dispatcher Jessica Gilbert from Ogemaw County Central Dispatch (MI). 

Catching up with Ricardo Martinez, Creator of Within the Trenches Podcast and Founder of the #IAM911 Movement.