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APCO 2019: Opening General Session

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  • APCO 2019: Opening General Session

    The Opening General Session for APCO International’s 85th Annual Conference and Expo featured awards for excellence in the telecommunications industry as well as a keynote address by Bret Baier of the Fox News Channel.

    APCO International Executive Director Derek Poarch welcomed a ballroom full of audience members to the Baltimore Convention Center on Monday morning as he delivered an update on the association and its public policy initiatives.

    Poarch said APCO membership now surpasses 35,000, and these members are using their voices through a “Take Action” portal established by APCO to convince congressmen and senators to get on board with the 911 Saves Act. The legislation directs the Office of Management and Budget to classify public safety telecommunicators as Protective Service Occupations.

    “Support for the bill has grown in a bipartisan fashion,” Poarch said. “As of yesterday, there are 104 sponsors in the House and 23 sponsors in the Senate, and the bills are awaiting review by the committees of jurisdiction.”

    Poarch is optimistic that momentum will continue to build until the legislation becomes law “giving you the recognition and respect that is so well deserved for the lifesaving work you perform every day. APCO will not stop fighting for you until we have victory.”

    Poarch described a separate bill that would authorize $12 billion in grants to states and localities to help deploy NG9-1-1. He said APCO is working to ensure that the final legislation ensures interoperability for public safety communications across agencies and geographical boundaries.

    APCO President Holly E. Wayt and the rest of the executive committee congratulated winners of the APCO 2019 awards. The award winners are:
    • Director of the Year: Maureen Will, CPE
      Newtown Emergency Communications Center, Newtown, CT
    • Information Technologist of the Year: Boris Duran
      Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana, CA
    • Line Supervisor of the Year: Jenn Andrews
      Kitsap 911, Bremerton, WA
    • Radio Frequency Technologist of the Year: Chris Dusseau
      City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
    • Telecommunicator of the Year: Marissa Leezer
      Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Chicago, IL
    • Trainer of the Year: Bess Joyce, RPL
      Jeffcom 911, Lakewood, CO
    • Team of the Year: North Andover Police and Fire Communications
      North Andover, MA
    • Technology Leadership Award for a Large Communications Center: City of Santa Clara
      Santa Clara, CA
    • Technology Leadership Award for a Small Communications Center: Fayette County 911 Communications Center
      Fayetteville, GA

    Wayt also noted the addition of a FirstNet track among the many educational offerings during APCO 2019. “With all of the offerings that have been carefully vetted and selected, there are plenty of opportunities to improve your knowledge in areas of importance to you,” Wayt said.

    FirstNet’s Stacy Schwartz, vice president of public safety and FirstNet sales with AT&T, summarized the progress for FirstNet during the last year.

    She pointed to the operations center and pre-emption across voice and data communications as well as proof of FirstNet under difficult conditions, including active shooter incidents, search and recovery, the 2019 Super Bowl and natural disasters.

    “FirstNet kept supporting first responders when other systems were down or unavailable,” Schwartz said. “We’re both humbled and honored to serve you. And we won’t stop serving you because you never stop serving your communities.”

    Schwartz introduced Baier, the Fox News anchor of Special Report, who offered up amusing stories from his career covering politics, government and local news. He described the CNN anchor Bernard Shaw’s habit of eating popcorn during commercial breaks. And he recounted a golf outing with President Donald Trump before the businessman became a political actor.

    Baier also described the lessons he has learned while writing books about three American presidents. Baier’s latest book about President Dwight D. Eisenhower promoted the idea of leadership and Baier suggested several lessons people can learn from Eisenhower:
    • Act “gently in manner, strongly in deed,” a motto that Eisenhower displayed on his desk.
    • Be a “motivator, not an instigator,” or practice the art of getting someone to do something because they want to do it.
    • Surround yourself with people who know things that you don’t.
    • “Don’t make it about you – Eisenhower didn’t like the word hero.”
    • “Don’t let success go to your head, and take the long view.”

    “Eisenhower is a great example of leadership. (The 1950s) look like a quiet peaceful time, but in reality, we were in the heat of the cold war and nuclear war could have happened at any time,” Baier said.

    Baier related that his first son was born with serious heart defects. He has undergone numerous open- heart surgeries as a baby and as he has grown. Nevertheless, Paul excels in basketball and golf and he is president of his school student council, Baier said. Baier said the experience has made him thankful for son’s health, and he gives the proceeds from speeches, like the one he delivered at APCO 2019, to Children’s National, where Paul receives medical care.