Meet Our Team...

Brendhan T. Sears, RPL

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playgr--- oh wait... wrong person.  Brendhan was certainly no stranger to the playground, but he is actually a native of North Chicago ,IL.  As a Music Ed and Performance major, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, but life had some other plans for him. 

 

After a series of unfulfilling jobs, he found an ad for an open dispatch position in a thing called a newspaper.  The job paid well and sounded... interesting.  He started in 2007 and hasn't looked back!

Brendhan has over 630 hours of advanced professional training including Certified Training Officer, Crisis Intervention, Suicide Intervention, Active Shooter, and earned his RPL Diploma in 2019.  He is also a member of the Peer Support Team.  

 

Outside of work, Brendhan enjoys being as active in music as his schedule allows.  He sings professionally, and has performed and recorded with Grammy award winning artists and nominees.  He also enjoys composing original works and arrangements for both band and orchestra.  Brendhan lives about an hour outside of Chicago with his amazing fiance.  

Kiersten Anders

Contributing Editor

Kiersten started her dispatch career in 2011.  Originally with a degree in forensic criminal investigation from Lewis University, she had been actively pursuing job options throughout the Midwest.  She was working at the local library.  Yes, a bit of a bookworm.  Anyways, one day she stumbled upon the posting for dispatcher.  Totally different focus.  Still law enforcement related.  Why not give it a try?  Seems to be working out well.

Part of why she enjoys the job is due to the constant variety.  The adrenaline.  Interacting with so many different people.  Always learning something new.  Towards that, she has over 175 hours of additional dispatch training, including Crisis Intervention Team.

Away from the center, she enjoys swimming, yoga, reading, kayaking, taking trips with her fiancé and their two dogs. She believes music is the best medicine for anything, you just need the right playlist. 

Kalee Covganka

Contributing Editor

Kalee was born in Waukegan Illinois and moved to Southern California at age 13. She attended a magnet high school for the arts, focusing on dance, stage production, and fashion design but gained interest in public safety in her late teenage years. She considered joining the military before ultimately deciding to attend Emergency Medical Technician classes at age 20. She worked for a private ambulance company for 6 years in the greater Los Angeles area and also attended paramedic school before moving back to Illinois in 2013.

In June of 2013, while waiting for her reciprocal EMT license for Illinois to be granted, she found a posting for a dispatch job opening in Fox Lake, Illinois, just a couple of miles from where she was staying with family. She applied and was accepted the same day. Her reciprocal EMT license came in just a few weeks later, but she decided to stay in dispatch to see where it would take her.

In 2015 she was the Illinois APCO Telecommunicator of the year, as well as the EMD of the year for her own agency. She is also a certified CPR instructor, team leader for TERT (Telecommunicator Emergency Response Team), and a certified training officer, with several hours of training and an interest and focus on field and tactical dispatch.

She was married in 2019 and lives with her husband and stepson in Lake County, Illinois. In her spare time she enjoys what she refers to as “grandma crafts,” such as quilting, sewing, crochet, knitting and embroidery. She has 2 dogs and a soft spot for animals.

“I feel like my journey to dispatch was a happy accident, and I've definitely found my calling and my home. Being on the other side of the radio has been eye-opening, and while my previous experience prepared me for the heartache and trauma, it didn't prepare me for the actual job. I love being able to connect and give back to the communities and agencies we serve, and I'm so glad my career has taken me in this direction.”

Charisce Floody

Contributing Editor

Originally from Cicero, IL, I have been a dispatcher for 15 years.  I am the lucky Mom of two AMAZING girls and two very spoiled cats.  

 

I have completed over 280 hours of training in dispatch related curriculum. The two EMD programs, MABAS, Crisis Intervention, Hostage Negotiations and Suicide Intervention were some of the best ones I've attended and find I draw on things I learned from these classes just about every shift I work.  I am also a Communications Training Officer.

 

When I'm not working, I like to workout to blow off steam (not that this job is stressful) and spend a lot of time with my very active kiddos.  My girls are both in dance and Girl Scouts which keeps us very busy.  We also frequently sign up to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children.  I love to read and listen to music.  I don't watch very much TV except during football season.  

 

I became a dispatcher at the urging of a very good friend who had gone into Law Enforcement.  I had been waiting tables at the ripe old age of 21 and he had had watched me take a 6 person order with modifications and not write it down.  He said with a memory like mine, I would make an excellent dispatcher.  I applied at my first department and got hired shortly thereafter.  The rest is history!

Norm gann

Contributing Editor

Suave, cool, and filled with soul! Anyway, we're not here to talk about Brendhan!

 

I have been a dispatcher since the end of 2009. It has been my only stint as a dispatcher. At the time I was hired on, I had been laid off from a design/project manager position in the IT industry, and was also going through the application process to be a firefighter. I seriously had no idea what to expect. I was sent a letter, by my current employer, and told the position had been filled, but then was called for an interview. How many times has this happened?! Having no experience, and being hired on the same day as someone we thought had a lot of experience, I was very motivated to make it through my training as fast as they would. 2 years later, I interviewed for a Supervisor position, which I did not get, but interviewed for the Asst. Supervisor position that opened, and was awarded that position. There have been some big "bumps" along with the way, but ultimately I came out the other side and am still here. I didn't do it without a lot of love and support from my family and my work family and I can't tell them enough how appreciative I am for what everyone has done for me.

 

I grew up all over the place. I lived in Illinois where I did a very small portion of grade school, and most of the grade school was in AZ and CA. Went through middle school and high school in Missouri (Go Mules!), eventually settling back in WI and IL for the last 20+ years. Don't let this baby face fool you, i'm a lot older than I look (and act at times)!

 

"Higher education" consists of a year at Community College to get a certificate in HVAC. Beyond that, my experience and education has been Life. Of course, I've attended lots of training courses over my career as a dispatcher. To be honest, I've never kept track of the hours, lol. This year however (2018), I obtained my license to become a REALTOR and am working on building that business as well and am looking forward to some additional success helping people find the home that they want and need. Clearly service/customer service is in my blood! 

 

You can call it luck or you can call it fate. Call it whatever the hell you want to, but clearly I was meant to be here

Trae Maeder

Contributing Editor

Reporting in from paradise, Trae Maeder represents HTH all the way down in Fort Myers, Florida!

 

Trae serves the community where he was born and raised and has been a TC with the Florida Highway Patrol, providing law enforcement dispatching and call taking to southwest Florida, since June of 2015! In 2017 he promoted to Communications Training Officer and has been training all of the newbies since. He also serves as a member of his agencies Traumatic Incident Peer Support Team, providing assistance to first responders when they need a helping hand.

 

Trae is an avid attendee of APCO classes and whatever other trainings he can score. He also keeps up with emerging books and articles that relate to public safety and stress management. In his down time at work you’ll usually find him creating new resource or training material, or nose deep in a new book or article.

 

In his down time, Trae is video gamer and a bit of a techie. He always has to be doing something, lately he’s been trying to learn how to code, nerd! He enjoys spending time with his friends at the beach, brewery or beating them at a round of Rocket League!

Neva Squires-Rodriguez

Senior Editor

Neva was born and raised in a neighborhood located on the North Side of Chicago. Mother, Wife, Expert at multitasking, Neva has been a dispatcher since 2014 at two different agencies in Lake County, Illinois.

 

Neva earned her Bachelor’s Degree from American Military University (APUS/AMU) and her Master’s Degree from National University, a feat which she worked very hard to obtain and says she will work even harder to pay off.

 

In addition to raising her four children and caring for her cat, Olive, Neva enjoys writing in her spare time and has authored multiple Contemporary Romance Novels. She is also a volunteer tutor for Reading Power and works primarily with kindergarteners at local area elementary schools.

 

She states that helping others is the highest reward attainable in life and that is precisely why she enjoys and is so passionate about dispatching. She loves working in the field because of the variety of calls and the fact that she is able to help at least one caller a day, as they face one of their most traumatic life situations.

Janelle Williams

Contributing Editor

Janelle has been a dispatcher in southeastern Wisconsin since 2015. Janelle wanted to find a way to help her community on a larger scale after being part of a lockdown at a mass shooting in Pittsburgh in 2012 while mentoring her high school robotics team. That event forced her to come to terms with a lot including her own future. Following several other mass shootings in and around her hometown, her want to help turned into a need and she stumbled upon a job listing for 911 dispatchers. She applied at two agencies before receiving an offer. It took 8 months, 2 typing/Criticall tests, an extensive detective interview, a panel interview and several months of waiting before receiving the offer on her 23rd birthday. Janelle attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, originally studying pre-med before transitioning to journalism and communications with a minor in history. She worked at UPS and in a restaurant before finding her passion as Emergency Services Dispatcher, as her agency calls them.

 

Janelle has hours of training in several topics including Incident Command, Peer Support, Critical Incident Stress Management and Crisis Intervention. She is a member of the Milwaukee Police Officer Support Team which acts as a peer support network and crisis line for all areas of law enforcement, including dispatch. She is a member of her department's Career Survival Unit which holds events for department families throughout the year to foster healthy home-work relationships and improve morale and also acts as a department-wide peer support network. She is also a member of her department's Awards Committee, Dispatch Training Unit, WI Time System Validations Team and is a Communications Training Officer. One of her biggest accomplishments is bringing RapidSOS to her department after seeing a demonstration of it at the APCO 2018 conference. Janelle has won two lifesaving awards for helping give CPR instructions to two people who survived hospital transport due to her efforts as well as a unit citation for her work with fellow dispatchers and officers on a homicide call.

 

Outside of work, Janelle has two cats, Salem and Gizmo, who are basically her children. She enjoys playing Magic The Gathering and board games and spends a questionable amount of time playing Pokemon Go. She also likes camping, traveling, spontaneous adventures and British television. Janelle has been assigned to the overnight shift since 2015 and loves it because it lets her live nocturnally like her favorite animals, owls. She considers her shift as family, including the officers, and loves taking care of them through monthly food nights and supporting them through good and bad calls."

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