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Student Career Resource

April Recognized As 911 Education Month

April marks 911 education month, to shine a spotlight on 911 professionals and highlight the important public safety contributions they make to our society. 

Here at Higgins Insurance, we have started a new education series on some professionals who work in different fields.  We will be highlighting them throughout this year and they will range from correctional officers, social workers, doctors, police, nurses, engineers, education support staff, arts, housekeepers, etc.

Our goal is to inspire our youth so they can learn more about different professions, as well as to showcase the amazing people that perform those jobs in the Maritimes. If you would like to be featured, please let us know by email.

Our third interviews are with Lana Grant at Integrated Emergency Services Halifax Regional Police Force and Rachel Haslett at the Saint John Police Force.


Here is our interview with Lana Grant…

Why did you become a 911 operator?  
My dad was a Mountie, so I grew up around the policing/emergency service environment. Helping people and being calm in the midst of emergency related chaos was something I was familiar with. My dad worked in small towns during most of my youth and often people landed at our home, or we’d be stopping by to check on someone on the way going to something else or people would call us frantically looking for help, so as you can see – I think I actually started training for this at a very young age. In 2005 the opportunity presented itself for me to apply to work with the Halifax Regional Police as a Police/Fire/911 call taker-dispatcher and I jumped at the chance. I’ve been with them ever since and absolutely love what I do. No day is the same in here and you never know what crisis you are about to step into when you answer the emergency or even our non-emergency lines, but I know I’m equipped to help them thanks to both my life experience and my job training.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
The most rewarding part of the job can vary on any given day. Some days it’s rewarding because I have helped be a part of saving a life on a large scale…and sometimes it’s even more simple. I could have just helped someone with what to me could be considered a simple fix, but for them it’s a more vulnerable situation and a big deal. You can get this tangible feeling of relief in their voice. I think the most truthful answer is that every day is rewarding in this job. We are in a position to make a positive difference and though some of things we work to help people through are the worst things in their life, knowing we are there to help in a time of need feels very purposeful.  

What advice would you give for those who wish to follow this career path?
To follow this career is not for the faint of heart. You hear the worst traumas you could imagine and you have to be able to somewhat detach personally from it. You must have excellent multi-tasking skills, as usually you are listening, typing and doing call related tasks all at once. You need to be able to leave all that you process through the shift at the door when you sign out and be ok about not sharing the details with your family. My extra advice would be to take steps to keep your mental health in top shape, as this can be a high stress position. I have found embracing some level of physical fitness (a nice walk even!), and healthy eating a great counselor for mental health tune ups.  This lifestyle can really help maintain a more positive internal rhythm. 

Leave us with a fun fact about your occupation!     
A fun fact…hmmmm….Maybe the fact our staff are split into 4 groups (which we call watches) and we align with the same numbered patrol watch – so we are always working with the same crew – so you develop a great trust in abilities. We often spend more awake time with these people than our own families, so they become like a second family. We work 48 hrs in 4 days (2 days/2 nights) and during that time we have each other’s back and depend on each other more than you could imagine. So in a world that can sometimes feel lonely for many – this job gives you something special…connection. (And…on the night shifts we get to wear far more comfy clothes!).

A fun fact about Lana – she is also a singer songwriter and you can visit her work on the sites below.


Here is our Interview with Rachel Haslett… 

Why did you become a 911 operator?
 After my university studies, I was encouraged to apply for Saint John’s new civilian 911 centre.  Being bilingual was an asset, along with my ability to multi-task and some good organizational skills.  Being a bit of a night owl, the shift work appealed to me.  The idea of helping people in crisis was exciting.   
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your profession? 
 Every day is different, I’m always learning and the technology part of the job is always evolving.   Of course, the first baby I helped deliver over the phone was very memorable.    However, my best days are those where our team works together, using tools and technology on hand, to assist first responders in locating people or helping with an investigation.  I’m a bit of a sleuth at heart.
What advice would you give for those who wish to follow this career path? 
The Saint John 911 centre provides on-the-job training programs about once a year.  It can be a stressful, fast-paced job at times, but is balanced out with the help you are able to provide and a great team of people to work with.
Leave us with a fun fact about your occupation!
 5% of calls made to 911 are not an emergency!  (as per New Brunswick Public Safety website).  
The Saint John Public Safety Communications Centre answers 911 calls for all of southern New Brunswick, as well as non-emergency calls for 2 police departments and 7 fire departments.  We are one of six 911 centres in the province.

A fun fact about Rachel – her de-stressing strategy involves time spent training and competing nationally with her Giant Schnauzers.  

Higgins Insurance has been protecting families since 1993. You can reach us 1-866-273-2911.

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