April 11-17, 2021
Every year during the second week of April, we honour telecommunications personnel in the public safety community. This week-long event is a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public.
This year’s theme is “Headset Heroes: Who is your public safety superhero?”
Edmonton, Meet Your Headset Heroes!
Krista: Emergency Communication Specialist
Being a part of the fire department has always been a dream of mine. It all started thanks to my close-knit relationship with my grandpa who was once Fire Chief of my village in Acme, Alberta. I would hear all the stories of how he helped people and I wanted to be a part of such a great organization.
In ninth grade, I had an opportunity to have a career day with a Red Deer firefighter where he took me to all the fire halls and enlightened me on all the aspects of the job. During that day is where I met my first ever Emergency Communication Specialist. She told me if becoming a firefighter doesn't work out then becoming a dispatcher is just as rewarding. I never forgot that moment and ultimately decided that that is what I wanted to do in life.
In 2013 I was accepted into the Emergency Communication and Response Program at Grant MacEwan. As a part of the program you get to do a “ride-along” with different dispatch centres and when I did mine with the Edmonton Fire Rescue Communication Center, I knew that this was my dream job. I graduated in 2014 and was hired on with EFRS 3 months later.
This career is rewarding as you know that you get to help people every day that you work. You also know that no day will ever be the same because when you pick up that phone, you never know what kind of call you are going to get. To date, my most memorable call is when a lady called in the middle of the night to say her house was on fire and that her mother was trapped upstairs. Being that line of support during her worst moment and keeping her safe outside while getting the fire trucks there is something I will never forget. I am in my seventh year now and wouldn't change it for the world.
Cari: Emergency Communication Specialist
Cari has been a member of Edmonton Fire Rescue dispatch since February of 2012. She started her career in EMS working as an EMT in northern Alberta, eventually moving on to ambulance transfers and industrial EMS. She also spent many years working at the Provincial Flight Coordination Centre (Air ambulance dispatch). After working with some colleagues who had involvement with Edmonton Fire Rescue she began hearing about their dispatch centre and how it was a great place to work so applied the next time a position became available.
Cari loves the team environment and working together to manage a busy shift. There's a lot of laughter and the job rarely feels like work. The opportunity to train and ride along with fire crews and fire investigations is another great perk of the job. Cari lives in southeast Edmonton with her partner Mike, dogs Butler and Bridget and three cats, Jezabel, Abby and Fuzzy. In her free time she enjoys time at the off-leash park with the dogs, motorcycle rides and camping/boating.
Laura - Emergency Communication Specialist
Emergency Communications Specialist Laura has been with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services for 11 years.
It feels like just yesterday that I was hired on. When I graduated from high school I thought I wanted to be a nurse. Due to some circumstances beyond my control, it was not an advisable career choice for me. I took a year off from school to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Then, one day while I was riding an ETS bus with some friends, I saw an advertisement for the Emergency Communications and Response program at Grant MacEwan. I always knew I wanted to be able to help people and this would be a way I could do it safely from a distance. I took a picture of the sign, applied for the program, and was accepted.
I graduated from the program in 2008, worked at another agency for 2 years out of college, and was hired on with EFRS in 2010. There hasn’t been a day since that I am not grateful for the career that I have. Within EFRS and the City of Edmonton, there are many opportunities to grow. I am currently in the Technical Support Captain position for this term and am learning so much new information that I have’t learned in the past 11 years. There are a multitude of courses available within the city itself and an even larger amount around the world through other different agencies. We sometimes have the opportunities to ride along at fire halls and on various types of training. Some of my favourites I have had the opportunity to do are high-angle training, live burn and water rescue training.
It is hard to peg down just one call that stood out to me during my career, but one of my favourite happy outcome calls came from a gentleman who was busy cleaning out his gutters on his roof. He called the fire department to report that his toddler who was supposed to be playing in the yard safely was now up on the rooftop with him and he was at a loss for how to get him down safety. Having a child the exact same age as him, this call really resonated with me since I know exactly what trouble a 2-year-old can get up to. We had a good laugh over the situation as a whole while I remained on the line with him until fire crews could arrive on the scene.
I honestly would not trade a day in this job for any other job out there. The people I get to work with to those that I get to help on a daily basis are all worth it. I come to work every day with the attitude that I work for an amazing employer, with awesome people, and get to have one of the most rewarding jobs out there.
Erin - Emergency Communication Specialist
Erin has worked with Edmonton Fire Rescue since 2016 and has been with the City of Edmonton since 2006.
My journey to be a dispatcher began with my need for a change in career paths. My Husband who is a firefighter with Edmonton Fire Rescue mentioned there were these kinds of positions within the department and to look into what I would require to apply for one. I enrolled in the 3-day International Academy of Emergency Dispatch Certification program, and then went on to enroll in the Emergency Communications Response Program at Grant Macewan. It was only an 8 month program which seemed very doable at the time, with my situation of having a baby in 9 months!
After having my son, the opportunity to apply for a position with Edmonton Fire arose. Unfortunately, I was still into the early stage of my maternity leave and couldn't leave my son just yet. However, months later another position came forward and I was truly lucky to be hired. It was my goal to work hard and try to earn a position with EFRS.
Well over 5 years now, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I love my job and I love the people I work with - in the room and on the radio. From learning new skills and an ever changing workflow, to having the opportunity to get a taste of some of the training the firefighters receive is just some of the excitement of the position.
No day is the same and no phone call is the same. Some calls are generic and you can almost predict the outcome and then others, you have no idea and are full of surprises. I've definitely taken my fair share of interesting calls, good and bad — however, a few will always be in the back of your mind where the rest just fade into one another.
My top 3 calls I'll never forget are:
Only a month old on the job, I took a call for a man on fire.
An elderly lady was trapped in her mobile home which was on fire. I stayed on the phone with her until crews arrived and rescued her, and heard she was okay in the end.
The third call was not so much taking the call, but working a second alarm fire with a casualty and just all the chaos and emotion of the call and the intensity in the room with one of our evaluators staying on the phone with the people trapped in their home.
But again, I wouldn't change career paths for the world. Knowing that I work with such great people I am proud to represent a world leading fire department and such a great city!
Michelle - Senior Qualified Emergency Communication Specialist
I'm Michelle and I'm a Senior Qualified Communications Specialist with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services. I've been with EFRS since 2003, prior to being hired I worked with Edmonton EMS as a paramedic.
When I was hired our centre handled both EMS and Fire emergency calls, so I was very familiar with how dispatch worked from my time on the road. I have always been drawn to professions where I would be able to help people, and I know that I'm in the profession I'm meant to be in. In my free time I've had the opportunity to be involved in the EFRS Muscular Dystrophy committee (Rooftop Campout, Bootdrives). I'm the Dispatch Shop Steward and a Trustee for our Edmonton Firefighters' Union.
I've been so incredibly lucky to do training with our crews! Participating in the Fire Fighter Qualified program, rappelling off a roof, river rescues, ice rescues, live fire, high-angle rescues, confined space training... the list goes on!
I can say without a doubt that there is no other career out there that would give you the opportunity to not only participate but see first hand the amazing and hard work that our fire crews do every single day.
What I love most about my job? Well, there's so many things. I love my work family, working with and helping crews on calls, helping the callers who are in an emergency situation. I love when it's busy, I thrive on it and I think we all do! Remember the snow squall? That was a busy night and that's where we as a department work as a team and get the job done.
After more than 17 years on the job, I have had many memorable calls.. too many! Both good and bad but I can't pick just one.