A Special Note from a New Annual Conference Attendee: Sgt. Thomas Olynick of Rusk County

Posted By: Caitlin Hagar-Kuhn Community, Annual Conference,

WLIA Board Members and Committee members,

I would like to express to the board members, staff, and vendors that to put together the 2022 Wisconsin Land Information Association annual conference in Elkhart Lake, a sincere thank you for the work that went into putting on a terrific conference. As a first-time attendee at this conference it was an eye opener for me to see and learn more about the different disciplines and knowledge that come together to provide the data that many take for granted on a day to day basis.

I have been working in the Rusk County Emergency Communication Center and Jail since 2003, and while working in the 911 center can be a gratifying job; it can also be an assault on your senses. You try to answer calls and radio traffic, manipulate and enter calls, while linking records appropriately. Try to manage to get the responders where they need to be in a timely manner with the information they need to save lives, protect property, and ensure public safety. Mostly while in a cramped, darkened room to reduce eyestrain from the many monitors it seems that are required for everyone in any job these days. It can be a daunting task for sure.

And as the years have gone by we change hardware and software, learning as we go, trying to transition into the next step of our careers, all while trying to not fall behind in the basic skills of the job. Staff comes and goes; some to better opportunities, and some, sadly; due to turbulent times, family issues, or health concerns. Being a leader in any career takes ambition, determination, passion and drive. But also, being open to learning new concepts and knowledge from other sources. Wanting to improve upon the success of oneself and my department is what initially made me determined to reach out to others in this community. I was seeking answers to the things that seemed to slow us down or plague our ability to coordinate emergency responses more swiftly. It has always been said that “seconds save lives” and this is something I think we all ultimately believe. So, reaching out to our local IT department (James Bugbee, Rusk County) and GIS coordinator (John Fitzl, Rusk County), I learned of new possible skill sets and knowledge I want to pursue, even if it just improves my core skillset as a dispatcher. And, I was invited to attend your conference, and it was a great experience.

“Strengthening Connections.” I don’t think a more appropriate theme for this conference could have been rendered. Just witnessing the multitude of professionals from various public and private sectors at these sessions really showed the far-reaching aspects and intermingled complexities of the information that everyone updates maintains. It’s everywhere! It’s a part of everything! From Public Works planning, private ventures, environmental, medical, and social issues, and to future planning and future proofing infrastructure, as well as encouraging better standards and guidelines for legislation and policies from local, state, federal and even at global levels. I can honestly say that there have been many times since this experience that I get lost in thought about everything all your work touches. I really believe that through better communication and a better understanding I can reach my goal of better meeting the needs of the citizens I serve in my community.

So once again before closing, Thank You!

With all sincerity;
Sgt. Thomas Olynick, Rusk County