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2020 Trainer of the Year – Cass Deering

2020 Trainer of the Year – Cass Deering

Cassandra has been a trainer for CRESA new hires since 2011.  She has been an academy instructor for approximately two years.  She goes by “Cass” and has a no nonsense approach to training, instigating responder safety, along with setting a consistent standard for customer service and response for the citizens of Clark County.  Cass exercises humility and integrity in her approach to dispatch work and passes the same expectation to trainees.  She functions as an APCO certified trainer in the classroom as well as one-on-one practicum with individual trainees.

As with every 911 agency, COVID has not been kind when it comes to implementing hands-on training in close contact environments.  CRESA has had no exceptions.  COVID presented opportunity to train virtually through zoom links and adapt curriculum to trainees learning in an at-home environment.  Cass adapted right with the trainees and found herself moving from the classroom environment to an online environment conveying information in a format that was understandable and relatable to trainees.  In addition, Cass was working through personal trauma with illness among her immediate family.  Cass was able to pass on policy, dispatch applications, and tasking to new hires while navigating her work schedule, her personal walk, and maintaining a positive and engaging persona.

While Cass is not a direct supervisor, she, like many other trainers has taken on the leadership role to facilitate training according to CRESA policy, guide and mentor new hires adapting to their diverse learning styles, and emulate a professional, flexible demeanor that makes her approachable and amiable to the needs of trainees and other CRESA trainers.

Cassandra forms relationship with trainees from day one.  As we are familiar in the dispatch world, negative culture can make or break a trainee in their journey to successful certification.  Cassandra finds ways to relate to trainees on their path to make them feel welcomed, successful, and valuable.  Cassandra tells trainees the nuts and bolts of what will make them successful.  She then finds something about each trainee that personalizes her interaction.  Cassandra does this in an effort to make the trainee feel like more than a number on the roster.  Cassandra communicates with trainees with real speak.  She does not sugar coat and she does not use condescension to get results.  Instead, Cassandra uses real events, both negative and positive outcomes to relay the importance of what trainees are learning and how they can be successful.

Cassandra has experienced several trainees that struggled to demonstrate the tasking they learned.  Instead of giving up on their progress and throwing in the towel, Cassandra would find ways to impress geography by developing geo-tours that were out of the norm for trainees.  She would implement a positive “post-it note program” to impress positive self-talk to trainees.  Cassandra would spend extra time not required to develop ways to recall codes and policy to trainees that had difficulty recalling information.

Cassandra communicates progress, ideas for remediation, and forward-thinking to the training coordinator, supervisors and management.  She is quick to utilize out of the box ideas in an effort to break through slumps that many trainees have when they are stuck.  In addition, Cassandra uses thoughtful, objective documentation to relay the day to day progress of trainees.  Anything she crafts in a daily observation report has also been discussed face to face with the trainee in an effort to make it so there are no surprises.  Cassandra believes firmly that the day to day positive interaction, even with negative outcomes of events and tasking, leads to the success of a trainee.  She engages, makes herself available, and finds ways to support trainees and other trainers that have difficulty.

day to day handling calls and dispatching with consistent resourcefulness, skill and competency.  She passes this same behavior and work attitude on to the trainees she oversees.  Cassandra is knowledgeable in CAD utility, geography both in and out of Clark County, as well as bestowment of professional care and rapport with callers, responders, co-workers, supervisors, and managers.  Cassandra is a steady that anyone in crisis would benefit from as their calltaker or dispatcher.  In addition, she maintains the same steady as  assisting a brand new trainee or one that has been working through to late phase.  She does not fluster, she does not waiver, and she does not impart disrespect.  At times when Cassandra does not have an immediate answer, she utilizes resources around her to find information and circles back to complete the task, thus showing the trainee that you do not have to know everything to have success in the job; you just have to know how to find information, work with your peers, and be professional.

Cassandra has been recognized in 2020 for a lifesaving award due to her efforts on January 27th, 2020 as well as EMD Excellence Recognition in 2020 for providing excellent Emergency Medical Dispatch ProQA life support instructions.

Cassandra is deserving of the 2020 APCO Trainer Sustained Performance Award because she is exemplifies the qualities and attributes of what 911 training can look like with someone who cares about public safety, emergency service provision, and customer service.

Cassandra Deering has been in CRESA’s employ as a 911 dispatcher since 2004.  In 2011, Cassandra become a Certified Training Officer through the APCO certification that was augmented with CRESA specific training.

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency – CRESA is a consolidated 911 center serving nearly 475,000 residents in Clark County, Washington.  CRESA provides 911 emergency, 311 non-emergency call-taking and dispatch, technology support services, and emergency management coordination.  CRESA’s service area includes Clark County and each of its seven cities – Battle Ground, Camas, LaCenter, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, Yacolt and Woodland in Cowlitz County.  911 Operations for CRESA dispatches for 27 Police, Fire and EMS agencies.  Last year, in 2020, average call volume per day was 1,449 calls.    over 332,000 police incidents and over 110,000 fire and EMS calls. 

CRESA employs six operational supervisors, 43 dispatchers, three leads, two call takers, and has seven dispatch trainees working toward certification with a continual open dispatcher recruitment running in the background.