Denera White: An Outstanding PSAP Telecommunicator

How do you choose one employee over another when it comes time to nominate someone for the PSAPs’ Finest Telecommunicator of the Year Award? Each telecommunicator I supervise contributes so much to our department. Each one is skilled, kind, and dedicated. In February 2012, as I was thinking about who to nominate, a call came in to our PSAP. It was a hysterical mother whose child was choking. I could hear telecommunicator Denera White in the communications center, calmly giving precise instructions to the mother in Spanish. Every telecommunicator in our PSAP has taken the basic telecommunications Spanish course but few of us would feel comfortable translating pre-arrival instructions to a hysterical mother.

We have a large Spanish speaking population in Sequin. Still, speaking Spanish is not a requirement of our department. Telecommunicators can use a Language Line to connect to an interpreter when dealing with a non-English speaking caller. But Denera realized early in her career that being able to confidently speak Spanish to callers was important. She could have chosen to pass those calls on to someone else, but she was determined to master the language so our Spanish speaking citizens would feel equally comfortable communicating with us.

As I replayed the recording of the choking incident later that day, I could literally feel the mother’s sense of relief when Denera explained that she spoke Spanish, and walked the mother through step-by-step instructions to help her child while the ambulance was en route. By the time the EMS arrived, the child’s airway was cleared and the situation was well under control.

I thought to myself – this is a perfect example of the kind of skilled, dedicated professional that NICE would want to recognize as PSAPs’ Finest Telecommunicator of the Year.

Since joining the Seguin Police Department nearly 19 years ago, Denera has shown relentless dedication in her job. She has blossomed from a new employee with so much to learn into an experienced professional who now teaches others what it takes to be a skilled dispatcher. In addition to handling 9-1-1 calls, she also instructs telecommunicator Spanish courses for many agencies in the central Texas area. She is the go-to resource for other Seguin telecommunicators who need assistance with Spanish translations, and for co-workers who want to perfect their Spanish language skills.

I remember another incident that happened soon after I moved back to Seguin to become the communications supervisor here. Being new on the job, I was trying to get a feel for the dispatchers’ level of skill and compassion and how things were operating in the PSAP when one day, an elderly lady was escorted into our office. Denera explained that the lady was confused about filling out an alarm permit and that it was causing her a great deal of grief. Now it’s not the role of telecommunicators to deal with such problems, but Denera immediately stepped in to help. The lady was so relieved.

I was so impressed that Denera took her break time to help this woman. It was then that I knew I’d made the right decision to come to Seguin to work with people of such caliber, people like Denera who share my feelings about what quality service means.

Denera Garcia White is an outstanding telecommunicator. But beyond that, she is a shining example of the big impact that small acts of kindness can have. I am so pleased Denera was recognized as the 2012 PSAPs’ Finest Telecommunicator of the Year.

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