TRANSFORM911Convenings: September 2021


September 2021 Convening

On September 17, 2021, Transform911 held its inaugural convening. Alongside community members and advocates, the event gathered leaders in public health, government, law enforcement, technology, and emergency response telecommunications to discuss how transforming complex emergency response systems can better support individuals on all sides of a 911 call – while improving public health and community well-being.

Opening Plenary: Establishing a Vision for Transformation

The opening plenary session set the stage for the work Transform911 will take on over the next several months.

  • Welcome remarks from Thea James, MD, VP of Mission, Associate CMO, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Director of Emergency Medicine, and Director of the Violence Intervention Advocacy Program at Boston Medical Center
  • Brian Williams, MD, Professor of Surgery at University of Chicago Medicine, and Tanya Tucker, Chief of National Engagement and Partnerships at Full Frame Initiative, discussed undertaking transformational change within the nation’s emergency response system to advance public health
  • Lindsey Leininger, PhD, Clinical Professor of Business Administration at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, moderated a roundtable panel discussion featuring:
  • Jerry Clayton, Sheriff of Washtenaw County, Michigan
  • Katya Fels Smyth, Founder and CEO of the Full Frame Initiative
  • Moki Macias, Executive Director of the Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative
  • Walter Katz, Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures

Breakout Sessions:

The breakout sessions were led by leaders in emergency telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, community organizing, and other related sectors.

ECC Operations (formerly 911 Call Handling Operations):

Led by Chad Kasmar, Public Safety Communications Interim Director in Tucson Arizona; and Edwin Huellstrounk, RN, BSN, NREMT-Paramedic, ECRN, TNCC, CEN at Edward-Elmhurst Health, this breakout session looked at how telecommunicators – who are the first point of contact when someone calls 911 – can be supported to promote outcomes that improve public health and safety.

911 Governance:

Jerry Clayton, Sheriff of Washtenaw County, Michigan; and Jeanne Milstein, Director of Human Services for New London, Connecticut, discussed the way in which 911 call centers are currently governed. Additionally, this breakout session explored how 911 policies can help improve care, wellbeing, oversight, and accountability while reducing structural, implicit, and cultural biases within the emergency response system.

Viable Crisis Hotline Alternatives:

What are the strengths and limitations of alternative crisis lines like 211, 988, and text lines that aim to promote public health and social justice outside of the traditional 911 system?  Moki Macias, Executive Director, Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative; and Mariela Ruiz-Angel, Director, Albuquerque Community Safety, led this breakout session that began to explore the practicality of crisis hotline alternatives.

911 Technology and Infrastructure:

Meredith Horowski, Brigade Network Senior Director, Code for America; and Michael Cowden, Director of Solutions Engineering, Code for America discussed how technology impacts the ability and capacity to ensure callers’ needs are met and that the correct response is dispatched at the correct time.

911 Professional Career and Supports (formerly Professionalization and Supports of Public Safety Telecommunicators):

What investments and actions are needed to standardize the training, certification, and occupational support of public safety telecommunicators? Lora Ueland, Director of Valley Communications Center in Kent, Washington – and a former 911 dispatcher – was joined by George Rice, Managing Partner at Skyhawk Global to lay out the framework for supporting telecommunicators and ensuring they have the training and resources they need at their fingertips.

Alternatives to Emergency Response:

Gabriel Rodriguez, Chief, Camden County Police Department; and Sean Goode, Executive Director, Choose 180, discussed successful and promising practices that provide people with appropriate medical care, social services, and community resources instead of, or in addition to, a police/EMS/fire response.