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2021 Team of the Year – CRESA

2021 Team of the Year – CRESA

At approximately 1852 on Friday, July 23rd, 2021, CRESA dispatcher Kira Yager perked up her ears when she heard undercover units calling for Deputy Brown (promoted to Sergeant Brown) on an unmonitored channel.  Kira was then asked to check Deputy Brown’s radio when several 911 calls came in regarding shots being fired in the area of the Pointe Apartments in Vancouver, Washington.

Shan Olsen took a call from a passerby who indicated they heard shots fired in the area, but did not have a pinpointed location or detailed description.

Ryan Sayne was getting ready to go off shift to experience a two-week vacation when his last caller provided information that they heard 4-5 shots and saw a person that was bleeding in a vehicle.  Ryan created the call for service for officers to respond.  Alanna Little, newly certified call taker was processing calls on this warm, late July summer day when she got a call from someone that was actually with the person that was bleeding.  She processed the reports of shots fired in to the vehicle while she provided emergency medical triage instructions to the person that was with the person and the vehicle.  Alanna persuaded her caller to make contact with the caller who indicated that he believed the person who was shot to be an officer.  Alanna and the caller would be the last people that would hear the final breaths of Deputy Brown.

Alanna continued to add information to the call and provide the caller with instructions to assist Deputy Brown.

Kira Yager was the dispatcher that worked the net where the main activity was taking place.  She dispatched the call advising units of the several calls that had come in regarding shots fired.  Ryan Sayne immediately utilized AVL resources to add information to the call of the deputy that was possibly involved.

It was then that an officer came on the air to indicate they believed they were behind a vehicle that was likely linked to the shooting.  They began to call out a pursuit of the vehicle.  Kira managed the pursuit of the vehicle while managing the dispatching to the scene of the shooting.  All the while, she kept control of her voice, she kept a clear status of units.  However, she did not do this alone.  While Kira was listening to capture information, so were the other dispatchers around her.  Cynthia Dixon, Ryan Michael, Holly Davis, and Lauren Schwilke.  As they would hear information either on their talk groups or in hearing and noticing what needed to be added to the call, they provided the information or added it to the call.

The pursuit ended where the suspects began running through an area that was close to freeway, butting up to a neighborhood.  It was here the suspects scattered on foot making it difficult for officers and deputies to access.

The subjects that were being pursued were of interest, dangerous, and known to law enforcement.  Law enforcement was able to detain two individuals with the third remaining outstanding.

While the pursuit was going on, the scene of the shooting had been moved to a different talk group so that fire, police, and EMS could coordinate efforts for response to treat one of their own as well as search the apartment complex area to know if there were any additional threats.

The outcome of the event around Sergeant Jeremy Brown’s shooting was fatal.  However, all of the bad guys were captured – that is part and parcel to the work of the dispatch staff at CRESA.  The team that worked this event moved and worked together like a well-tuned orchestra.  Officers responding to the call heard only one dispatcher, Kira, on their talk group.  What they did not hear and what is not captured in the recording is the work of the eleven dispatchers and call takers working together to get resources to the apartment complex, resources to the pursuit, making the notifications to all partner agents and mutual aid resources.  They did not hear the passing of information to Kira so that she could process quickly and effectively.  They did not hear the supervisor checking in quickly with all of the staff to ensure they had what the needed to keep working.  They did not hear the hum of a dispatch center working together to provide action and resources to a devastating event.  Everyone working this event worked as though their lives depended on getting law and fire resources where they needed to be.  They were clear with what they needed from one another, they were diligent in setting up perimeter and mapping information so that the complex areas could be quickly identified for response, and they did so with calm, collected manners knowing they could trust one another to get the information that was necessary.  All this in addition to the day-to-day stream of events that were coming in to CRESA on a hot July summer evening.

When the news revealed the details of Sergeant Jeremy Brown’s shooting, there is only a snippet that a 911 call was placed to dispatch.  The news stories do not reflect what truly goes on; that the dispatchers did not miss a bit as the calls came in that shots were fired, that someone had been shot, that someone was with a patient they presumed to be an officer.  The dispatchers moved out of their day-to-day independent working of their call taking or dispatching and they synced up to concentrate efforts to provide resources, information, the splitting of talk groups.  They told Kira they were going to take the scene of the where the shooting took place off her plate so that she could concentrate on establishing a perimeter for the officers chasing the bad guys.  They ran plates in the call to ascertain who was who and get descriptions.  They combed previous calls hey recalled from memory to quickly provide information to those responding.  They took initiative to separate talk groups and services so that needs could be met quickly, smoothly and efficiently.  That is something that you do not read in a news article – that dispatchers worked tirelessly to have information, coordination, and response to a tragic and quick moving event; all while responding to additional unrelated calls.

CRESA is no different than 911 agencies across the State of Washington working through the effects of COVID, police reform, and short staffing.  Sadly, we all represent success through a difficult time that we had not imagined before. 

What makes this team of dispatchers and call takers stand out from all of that is this: On June 12, 2021 CRESA lost one of their own – Michelle O’Malley, a dispatcher who lost her battle with cancer.  On June 15th, 2021, Ron Stevens, husband to CRESA dispatcher, Kelly Stevens, and Vancouver Police Officer, lost his fight with a brain tumor – both individuals had connection, love, and purpose with CRESA as a whole and individually with staff. 

You are told this not for the sympathy vote. You are told this because CRESA dispatch staff exemplified what dispatchers all across the state are having to do in the current climate.  They are having to work through tragedy, show professionalism, dedication, and strength.  The team that worked this event did just that.  They showed up in their grief and their weary to do the work that needed to be done.  They showed up for one another in the way they worked together and they showed up for responders in providing a highly professional, action-oriented means of response.

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/07/24/clark-county-sheriffs-deputy-shot-and-killed-line-of-duty/

https://katu.com/news/local/brother-hindered-arrest-of-man-accused-of-killing-deputy-court-docs-say

  • John Gaylord, Supervisor, Oversees Dispatcher Operations – Person in Charge
  • Jodi Gaylord, Supervisor, in on overtime as a calltaker
  • Shan Olsen, Calltaker, For this particular call, Shan was taking 911/311 calls providing triage and response
  • Kira Yager, Dispatcher, Dispatcher of this event on the Law side – dispatch response, coordination, status, communication provision
  • Kim Earls, Dispatcher, Dispatch support, resource allotment
  • Alanna Little, Call Taker/Dispatch Trainee, Alanna was taking 911 calls on her own – received and processed one of the calls around this event
  • Ryan Sayne, Call Taker, Ryan was call taking at the time of this event and processed one of the calls around this event
  • Holly Davis. Dispatcher         
  • Jackie Piggott, Dispatcher         
  • Cynthia Dixon, Dispatcher, no longer with CRESA, provided dispatch support around this event
  • Lauren Baker, Dispatcher, no longer with CRESA, provided dispatch support around this event
  • Ryan Michael, Dispatcher, no longer with CRESA, provided dispatch support around this event

Length of Service

  • John Gaylord, Supervisor, 31 years, previous dispatch experience in Portland, Oregon
    Jodi Gaylord, Supervisor, 25 years, with CRESA
    Shan Olsen, Calltaker, Eight years at CRESA; previously at Cowlitz County 911
  • Kira Yager, Dispatcher, 14 years as a CRESA dispatcher, no previous experience
  • Kim Earls, Dispatcher, Six years at CRESA, previous American Medical Response Dispatcher/Supervisor
  • Alanna Little, Call Taker/Dispatch Trainee, Almost two years at CRESA, no previous dispatch experience
  • Ryan Sayne, Call Taker, Six Years – no previous dispatch experience
  • Holly Davis, Dispatcher, Two Years, Previous Washington State Patrol Dispatcher
  • Jackie Piggott, Dispatcher, Seven Years, No previous experience
  • Cynthia Dixon, Dispatcher, no longer with CRESA, provided dispatch support around this event
  • Lauren Baker, Dispatcher, no longer with CRESA, provided dispatch support around this event
  • Ryan Michael, Dispatcher, no longer with CRESA, provided dispatch support around this event

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency – CRESA is a consolidated 911 center serving nearly 500,000 residents in Clark County, Washington.  CRESA provides 911 emergency, 311 non-emergency call-taking and dispatch, technology support services, radio integration 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 2021, average call volume per day was 1,600 calls.   There were over 335,000 police incidents and over 112,000 Fire and EMS calls. 

CRESA employs six operational supervisors, 44 dispatchers, five Leads, two call takers, and has four dispatch trainees working toward certification with a continual open dispatcher recruitment running in the background.

CRESA is supported by the Director, Deputy Director, a Training Coordinator, and additional management and support staff that work to provide maintenance and upkeep behind the scenes to provide 911, 311, and emergency management services to the Clark County constituency.