After the Webinar: Empowered People Empower 911. Q&A with Sara Weston

Webinar presenter Sara Weston answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Empowered People Empower 911. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: How do you empower people in an agency where the supervisor is somewhat discouraging and stopping progress? 

Sara Weston: So, hard. It’s such a good question. I think you have recognized the problem, right? You’ve recognized that maybe leadership isn’t on board with empowerment, they want to keep going, keep doing the same thing, and keep things the same. I would suggest reaching out to other co-workers who feel like you feel. Who wants to make change too, want to make the center better, and work with them. Get some backing. I’m not saying to gang up on your supervisor by any means, I’m just saying when you can find support in others, people who feel the same way, you can make the case to have that conversation with your supervisor. And I think bringing solutions and ideas is the best way. And if you can, find other people who can come in and have that conversation with you to show that you’re not the only one that feels this way. One. Two, two heads are better than one. Three heads are better than two when coming up with ideas and solutions and ways to make change. So, that’s one piece of it. The other piece is your approach to having that conversation so you already know that this person may not be super receptive to this message, to these ideas, to this conversation. I would suggest doing it in the most professional way possible. So, scheduling time, asking them, like, “When do you have time? This is what I’d like to talk about,” not ambushing, treating it like you have a proposal that you’re bringing to the supervisor. Also, is there a person in the center that that person listens to? Is there an advocate or a champion that has that person’s ear that you can maybe work through? Instead of you first going to them, maybe, I’ll say plant above in their ear, I’ve seen people have success utilizing kind of third party to help them plant the seed, build the foundation for having that conversation, and that’s just the way it works sometimes. I know, I talk about, you should feel empowered to go and have the conversation, but in reality, we need to be smart and think of different strategies. So, if there is a person like that in or out of the center that you know mutually and you can utilize to help facilitate that conversation. That is, is very, very helpful. And the third thing I want to say is say, you have to try. You can’t just not keep going . You might be saying, “Sarah, he/she is not going to be receptive. They’re just going to shoot me down.” Being shut down is a tool, so even if you bring this information to the supervisor and they say, “Absolutely not,” you’ve done something, you’ve taken a step, you’ve used what power you have, you’ve spoken up. So that does something for you to give you some power, don’t look at it as being shut down, using. Look at it as, taking the step, and then also even if they shoot you down, they know you’ve moved something in them, so it’s kind of a first step. Say you bring ideas, and they say, no. How can we compromise? But what if we do this? It’s about baby steps. Sometimes it’s about chipping away at that exterior little by little. And sometimes, it’s impossible, but you have to try it. You have to try for you. And you have to try for the folks in your center. And that’s and maybe that will spark some other ideas or pathways.


Audience Question: Is there more information or a handout about the Send a Smile program, should be interested in trying something like that within their company? 

Sara Weston: Please e-mail me. If you want to see it in action, it is in our Facebook group. You have to send a request because it’s just three questions like, how are you involved in public safety? Do you agree to the rules? You can go in there and it’s in there, but also please e-mail me and I can help you along with that because I have done that for several organizations. So got my e-mail there or shoot me a text or give me a phone call. I am one of those dinosaurs who answers their phone. So, I hope you are alright.


Audience Question: What are your ideas on how we might be able to find what we’re passionate about? 

Sara Weston: Yes, it’s hit hard, as I said. It took me going through a horrible tragedy to do that.  But part of what resonated with me about what I read from the book is what makes you mad. What about this profession, about this world? Like, what have you struggled with that makes you angry, think about that, and how can you, what can you do to right that injustice? Or are there organizations out there that do that kind of work? Already, that you can reach out to, or people that you see? With access to so many people now like on LinkedIn, and on social media. Are there people out there that are doing work that you’re like, “Dang, I would love to help with that.” I cannot encourage you all enough to message someone on LinkedIn. And I say LinkedIn specifically because it’s not like sliding into my DMS on Instagram. Like, it doesn’t have that stigma. It’s a very professional space. If there’s somebody out there that’s doing work that you’re interested in, send them a message. I have a mentee who said, “I’m going to message 10 women, I admire on LinkedIn, and just see what happens and ask them if they want to go to coffee.” You know, a lot of times, especially if you’re interested in the work they’re doing, they’ll respond, and you can go from there. But, yeah, it’s hard to find that thing that lights you up. I think because we’re so, like, we wake up, we get ready for work, we go to work, we come home. We take care of the kids we go to bed, or we come home, we watch Netflix and have a glass of wine and we do it all over again. And we get into this routine where we’re just trying to survive, and we don’t give ourselves time to really think about the things that we’re passionate about and want to do, especially if they have nothing to do with our job already? This loosely had something to do with my job, but not, not my skills. Again, I’m an IT major. So, yeah. I think you need to give yourself time to think, we don’t have time to think anymore. And something that kind of save me, this year, it sounds crazy, is I got COVID, and I had to be in bed for like five days. Isolated from my family. For the first time, in years, I had time to think, and I came up with so many ideas. And I really look back at the time with COVID is, like, something that really helped me to grow. So yeah. I would recommend just really thinking about what you’ve struggled with, what makes you mad, and who is doing work that you admire? And I’m trying to reach out.


Audience Question: Is there a way to re-ignite the passion in my current job where we really no longer feel anything? 

Sara Weston: Oh, Yes. So maybe I don’t know. I don’t know your situation. But I think you need to try. And I. This thing I’m going to recommend is reaching out to other people. Are you part of a community? I think the 911der Woman Facebook group has really helped people do that. And I know that for facts if we go back to the Smile Mail. Now, a lot of those cards and that smile mail have said, like, being part of this community has re-ignited my passion. Like word, for word. And I think there’s something to that, I don’t have all the answers, but being around people who understand your work, and I don’t know if you’re just federal, police officer, firefighter. But being around people who understand that burnout and understand your work and being around people who still have passion for it. I know. No matter what field you’re in, you’re working in a center or a place where you see the same people every day, you work with the same people, you don’t pick those people, you don’t get to pick the interactions you have with them. And meet other people who do what you do, who have passion, and can inspire you. So, I would again recommend reaching out, joining a group, volunteering at something, just exploring what’s out there beyond your life right now, beyond your center, and finding inspiration externally which might re-ignite your passion or might spark your passion for something else. But being open to that, it’s just super important for you.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Empowered People Empower 911.  



Additional Resources
2 years ago
Life-Saving Partners: 911 and Suicide Lifelines Working Together
Ensuring the safety of the public requires constant coordination between the agencies involved. Fire […]
3 years ago
Staffing 911 Centers in the Era of NG911
Next Generation 911 is being integrated by public safety agencies in their goal to enhance emergency […]
Future of Emergency Communications
4 years ago
The Revolution in Emergency Communications: How Next Generation 911 and FirstNet Are Poised to Change Policing in America
The numbers 9-1-1 has become synonymous with emergency response, not just within the United States b […]
7 years ago
Active Shooter and Intruder Response for Dispatchers and 911 Call Takers
  The MISSION generally speaking of emergency dispatchers and 911 call takers is: “To prov […]