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Young Professional Spotlight: Amber Waid, Carroll County 911

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  • Young Professional Spotlight: Amber Waid, Carroll County 911

    Amber Waid has been a telecommunicator for most of her adult life after being led to the field by a law enforcement officer. Coming from a daycare facility, Amber says that she thanks God daily for her job. “I have a great passion when it comes to being a telecommunicator and was shocked when the investigator told me about the job because I did not even realize being a 9-1-1 operator was a thing.”

    Since Amber’s employment began in 2019, she has strived to be the best she can be at her job. Learning the job of a telecommunicator while also dealing with a center that struggled with structure was also a challenge for a rookie dispatcher. Amber stated that she had always been drawn to law enforcement and things surrounding crime which is another reason she loves her job. “I have a strong passion for helping others, so being able to do so while being a part of public safety was a dream come true.”

    During Amber’s time at Carroll County 911, she has faced many struggles and, of course, the stressors that every other telecommunicator has to deal with, but she has always shown potential and been the light of the room for her co-workers. Her bubbly personality and desire to always bring the laughter out in everyone else make her a huge asset to the profession and her center. Amber says that it did not take her long to figure out after she started that she had found her calling and that was to serve her community. Serving her community is exactly what Amber has done, as she has overcome barriers and been through the most tragic event and the biggest changes that Carroll County 911 has ever seen.

    For about ten months in 2020-2021, Amber was tasked with training other newly hired telecommunicators. Without hesitation, she stepped up to the plate and did so without the title of CTO and without being compensated for her efforts. The center was without a director, without guidance and without certainty as to what the future held for the organization. What was certain to Amber was that she had to do her due diligence and stay focused on the mission to serve Carroll County. She knew she could help in doing that by ensuring that new telecommunicators received the best training she could give them. This was tough for a telecommunicator that was going on just two years of employment herself but the agency and her co-workers saw her potential.

    “Every morning I come into work and check my mailbox, sit down at my console, get logged into all the systems and then prepare for that first phone call or radio traffic from the officers. When I am training new hires, I check and make sure they are prepared to do the same. Sometimes I am required to take calls as well even when I have a trainee but I enjoy coming to work and working with my shift even in the difficult times.” Amber says that even though she tries to bring enjoyment and laughter to the shift, she knows when it is time to get down to business and handle what she needs to handle. The ability to still shine and present a smile in this line of work can be crucial to the success of a person or the agency.

    Not all moments in 9-1-1 are joyful or peaceful, and as a matter of fact, most are not. Amber knows first-hand of the trauma and fear that comes with the job. In April 2021, Amber was one of the lead dispatchers during a multi-jurisdictional vehicle pursuit and triple officer-involved shooting in Carroll County. In the early morning hours around 0300, the silence was broken, and her career was forever changed. While turmoil was present, tears were being shed and shots were being fired, Amber assisted in leading six other telecommunicators by maintaining calmness and professionalism while also helping to ensure that all the needed resources were notified and dispatched. It was the largest-scale incident in Carroll County history involving a threat to law enforcement.

    Amber has been promoted to Communications Training Officer on a permanent basis since February 2021 and since that time, she has continued to increase her training. From becoming a certified APCO CTO to attending other off-site classes, she regularly seeks new training opportunities. “I would love to continue to gain knowledge and become an excellent leader within my agency, and in order to do so, I must apply myself and participate in training to better myself for future openings.” Amber says that when it comes to recruitment or benefits that we can offer people to stay in this profession, she thinks it starts at a young age by educating our youth about 9-1-1. “Growing up and in school we had career days and I have never seen a 9-1-1 operator come and talk to younger children and inform them of the profession.” Amber believes that the turnover is so bad due to lack of knowledge of the job description when hired, trauma, burnout and choosing other career paths.

    Even through it all, Amber says that she still loves her job, and the part she loves the most is helping the elderly and children. She says that some telecommunicators don’t understand that an older person may not have anyone close by and when they call, they need to be shown compassion and provided help. She continues to be open about her struggles, mentioning that just in the last year, she has struggled with learning a new CAD, new caller location technology and an entirely new EMD system. “Learning all of this in the last year has been really challenging and then to try and train a new hire on the system makes it tougher.” Amber says that she has a pretty big role when it comes to developing new professionals in the field and she will always do her best.

    To talk about Amber’s personality and the joy she brings to the profession, her servant heart continued to show in October 2022 when she deployed on a 14-day TERT deployment to Fort Myers, Florida, and says that it was one of the most humbling experiences of her life. To other telecommunicators, Ambers advice is as simple as this: “You should never stop learning in the profession. If your agency offers training opportunities, then take them to better yourself