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Tuesday, May 30, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesSt. Croix Operators Set to Begin 911 Service Wednesday

St. Croix Operators Set to Begin 911 Service Wednesday

Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis, Michelle John-Baptiste (center) and Nadia Fearon.After 45 days of extensive, intense training, St. Croix 911 emergency call operators are set to go live to answer emergency calls Wednesday.

The emergency communication center operators, some new and some veteran, are serving under the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA).

The training consisted of text and workbook study; testing online and in class, and ride-alongs with V.I. police officers and St. Croix firefighters. There was hands-on first-responder training, which included certification in CPR, how to talk people through childbirth, and much more. Lessons were taught by Avon Chesterfield of Emergency Medical Services and instructors from other local agencies and from the States.

On Monday 18 emergency communication center operators received completion certificates for numerous nationally recognized programs. The commencement was held at Government House Ballroom with friends, family and government officials on hand for the ceremony.

Officials reminded the operators of the importance of their jobs and how they are trained to help save lives.

“You hold peoples’ lives in your hands,” said Clement Cain Magras, executive assistant to the state director of VITEMA. “A split-second decision could be someone’s life.”

He encouraged the graduates to work as a team and do their jobs with focus, the right attitude, efficiency and teamwork, and to follow up properly.

Sen. Samuel Sanes, chairman of the Homeland Security, Justice and Public Safety legislative committee, said he is glad the operators have dedicated time and effort to make sure the island is a safe place.

“As dispatchers you will be on the front lines, where your knowledge may save a life,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis spoke on behalf of Gov. John deJongh Jr., saying the updating of the 911 system is the realization of a major goal of the deJongh administration that began two years ago.

“The 911 system is now up to the same level as throughout the U.S.,” Francis said.

The local system is second to none, he said.

“What you say and how you say it will leave a lasting impression,” Francis said.

The lieutenant governor emphasized that customer service will be important. As an aside, he pointed out that there is one male in the group who will answer calls. People will know it was a male’s voice, so he has to give good service, because if there are any complaints they will know who it was.

Conrad Knowles, VITEMA state deputy director of training, says this is just the beginning, and the operators will continue to take refresher courses. Some will go stateside for more training. Training will begin on St. Thomas in a couple weeks, he said.

Victor Browne, director of V.I. Fire Service, summed up the accomplishment and new services as “very positive” for the territory.

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