If you polled everyone who works in 9-1-1, you’d probably find they have one thing in common: a passion for service. So it is with our 2017 PSAPs’ Finest Director of the Year, Gary Bates, 9-1-1 Director for the Howard County Consolidated Communications Center in Kokomo, Indiana.
Gary’s life-long passion for service started with his successful career in the military (culminating as the Chief of Police of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization American Detachment in Germany) and led him to a post-military ‘retirement’ career in public safety. Recently I had the opportunity to talk to Gary about his experiences.
What attracted you to a career in public safety communications?
I started with a law enforcement career in the US Air Force and after retiring I knew this is where my passion for service was. I wanted to stay involved with serving the community and communications was the best avenue to do this.
What is your most memorable career experience?
My most memorable career experiences as a dispatcher were those where I was providing help to callers in difficult situations – from giving CPR instructions to a woman whose husband had quit breathing to sending help during tornados and floods that were impacting the community.
What do you most love about what you do?
Seeing a project come to fulfillment is what I love the most. A five year radio project going live gives you a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride. It's never easy. There are lots of up and downs. But the end result of knowing you had a part in bringing the best to your center and your community is rewarding beyond measure.
What advice would you have for others thinking about a similar career path?
The advice I would have for someone is go for it! What better way to serve your community! As a 9-1-1 professional, we are the
first first responders. We are the life line to officers, fireman and EMS. Never settle except for being the best; never stop learning and being involved.
What does it mean to be recognized with a PSAP's Finest Award?
Being recognized with a PSAPs' Finest Award provides acknowledgement that my career helping to bring the best technology to front line telecommunicators who serve our community every day has been well spent. Directors work behind the scenes. That's the nature of the job. But being recognized by your peers in this manner is a great source of pride.
Nominations are now open for the 2018 PSAPs' Finest Awards
Know someone you'd like to nominate for a PSAPs' Finest award? Nominations for
2018 PSAPs' Finest Awards are now open. You can submit a nomination in any of these seven categories: Director, Line Supervisor, Technician, Trainer, Telecommunicator,
Innovator, and PSAP of the Year.
Since its inaugural year, the PSAPs' Finest Awards program has recognized more than fifty deserving individuals employed in the field of emergency communications. Winners are selected by an independent judging panel from the 9-1-1 community, which evaluates the nominees based on their professionalism, accomplishments, and service to their communities. Learn more by visiting the PSAPs' Finest Award program website here: