Young Professional Spotlight: Hailey Brunner, Cass County Sheriff’s Office (MO)

Hailey Brunner grew up around a sheriff’s office where her father has had a long-standing career. She started her career as a first responder in 2016 as a junior firefighter. It was then that Hailey first admired the calm voices on the other end of the radio, regardless of the situation. While Hailey was a senior in high school, her father encouraged her to apply as a dispatcher at the sheriff’s office, which ultimately started her career in 9-1-1. Hailey graduated high school in 2019 and started working as a Communications Officer at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office (MO), in the county where she currently resides.

At the beginning of her career, Hailey had aspirations of getting her EMT certification and becoming a flight nurse/medic until she realized how far she could expand her 9-1-1 career. At almost five years in, Hailey has joined several operations teams at her agency, including the Crisis Negotiations Team, Disaster Emergency Response Team, and the Peer Support Team. She has also had the opportunity to attend Emergency Communications Goes to Jefferson City and published an article about her trip with the 9-1-1 Training Institute. Hailey is working on getting others from her agency to join her at events to enable them to become more comfortable and involved with the Missouri Chapters of APCO and NENA. Hailey also shares any new knowledge with others at her agency so they can grow together as a team. She is a mental health support advocate in addition to advocating for reclassification and more funding for NG9-1-1.

Hailey’s responsibilities as a Communications Officer include answering emergency and non-emergency calls, dispatching police, fire and EMS units, maintaining paperwork, and continuing her education training. Hailey says the most enjoyable part of her job is knowing that she made an impact in someone’s life, whether being a calm voice on the phone or a voice of reason. She relies on her training and experience, including her experience as a firefighter, to know she has done everything possible to help someone in need. Hailey also enjoys getting to meet other 9-1-1 professionals through training and conferences. She hopes to gain more knowledge in skill development and have more of an impact on her community, including through public education. Hailey hopes to gain further career advancement with a goal of one day becoming president of a 9-1-1 organization.

When asked why she believes 9-1-1 professionals leave the industry, Hailey said she feels the most common reason is due to lack of recognition as well as burnout. Over the years, she has heard 9-1-1 professionals referred to as “just administrative assistants” or ‘just clerical staff” without being recognized and labeled as the first responders they truly are. Hailey believes that there are incentives to be considered for recruitment and retention, including career advancement opportunities, recognition and appreciation, and the support of mental health and well-being. Hailey believes that young professionals bring a variety of skills to the 9-1-1 industry, including adaptability, collaboration, cultural diversity and inclusivity. She says that young professionals are often more adaptable to change, open to embracing new processes and bring a team-oriented approach to the job. For those beginning a career in 9-1-1, Hailey’s advice is to prioritize self-care, seek support when needed and continuously engage in training to enhance skills and resilience. Most importantly, always remember your critical role in saving lives and providing assistance during emergencies and the power you have to make a difference.

In the next five years, Hailey sees herself being more involved in committee work, training and advocating more for 9-1-1 professionals, with both APCO and NENA, at the state and national level. She would also like to start doing presentations and training other 9-1-1 professionals. If her voice were heard throughout the 9-1-1 industry, Hailey would emphasize the critical importance of ongoing training, mental health support and technological advancements to ensure effective emergency response and support for dispatchers. Hailey says, “Your career is a journey, not a race. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. Always remember to believe in yourself and your abilities. You have the power to turn your career aspirations into reality.”

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