Ricardo Martinez is the mastermind behind the Podcast, "Within the Trenches" and the #IAm911 movement. Ricardo was a dispatcher for 13 years, but continues on supporting our thin gold line family by sharing the behind the scenes stories of discapatchers through his podcast! He also fought for dispatch reclassification in 2016, he still is continuing that fight along with making others aware of the just proposed #911SavesAct. If you haven't heard about him yet, I cannot wait for you to get to know what amazing work he is doing!
Where do you call home these days?
These days I’m living with my family in Indiana. It’s a little different from my home state of Michigan but not far off. The good thing is that I’m about 45 or so minutes from the state line so if I want more snow I don’t have far to go.
How did you find yourself creating this amazing passion project?
I found myself wanting more out of my dispatching career. I love 9-1-1 dispatch and I was good at it but after a while I fell into a hole. I was burnt out and I needed to find a way to rekindle my passion for 9-1-1. So, I decided to go back to school. I have always loved designing graphics and websites and writing so I started my journey that ultimately resulted in earning 3 degrees. My time in school rekindled that passion through projects I created that involved public safety. It was really the groundwork for what is now Within the Trenches, Imagine Listening and the #IAM911 movement.
What is your passion project about
My project is called Within the Trenches – True stories from the 9-1-1 dispatchers who live them. It’s a podcast based on the experience of being a 9-1-1 dispatcher.
If you could pick a song to best describe you or your business what would it be?
If I had to choose one song that would define my project it would be “Don’t stop believing” by Journey. At one time people told me that my project would not work, that people did not want to hear about the horrific calls dispatchers take and on top of that that people would not want to talk about it. Well, I believed in my story, the stories of those in dispatch and I worked hard to bring these stories to light.
What is your go to favorite quote?
There are many quotes out there that I love but one that I stick by is this:
“Don’t wait for opportunity. Create it.”
It’s something I have been doing for years now but it didn’t hit home until I read that quote. I’m not sure who wrote it but I love it.
Name something you wish you could do.
Oh wow! To be completely honest I have been living my dream. I have traveled all over the United States but I guess I would travel out of the country. It would be nice to visit Rome or Paris or Dublin. I’m a pretty chill person, not saying my dreams are not big but I’m working towards them now.
Where do you see your business/passion project in 5-10 years?
In 5-10 years I hope to be doing my project full time. I hope to have the books I’m working on published and my new shows flourishing the same way as the original. It’s going to take more hard work but it’s what I love to do.
What attracted you to this passion project?
What attracted me to my project was the realization that the public has no idea what happens in a dispatch center. On top of that, it was the realization that although we as dispatchers use our voice day in and day out, in the industry, at least back then, we had no voice. I wanted to change that.
What has been your favorite interview so far?
There have been many stories that I have enjoyed and have had the honor of telling. From the dispatch legend Steve Souder to a dispatcher in Texas who talked about a recent hurricane that left her and her co-workers helpless as they told callers that they could not send help. All of these stories are powerful but if I had to choose one it would be the school shooting at a school in Marshall County, Kentucky. Two dispatchers took on an onslaught of calls, listening to students yell and scream but one of the dispatchers had a child that went to this school and during the incident she had no idea if her child was there or not. Her daughter had been sick and it was up in the air whether she would be in school that morning and since her mom left for dispatch before anyone was up she didn’t know. Ultimately, her daughter stayed home but it was horrifying for the dispatcher as she answered call after call from the school. I have become pretty good friends with them and their director. They did an amazing job!
Who is your ideal podcast guest?
The ideal guest for the podcast is any dispatcher from beginner to seasoned. This includes, trainers, directors, etc. It’s fun to hear the differences between those who are just starting and those who have been doing it a while. One can learn much from both sides.
What should people know about your business/passion project?
This project has always been about 9-1-1 dispatchers and always will be. I did the job for over 13 years and I have so much respect for it. It has been my goal to share the stories from those within the trenches of 9-1-1 and it is my hope that I can leave a mark on this profession.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
One of the biggest challenges has been finding the time to keep up with everything. I work full time for INdigital as their Communications Director. I wear many hats as a dispatcher trainer, graphic designer, web designer, marketing, etc. so I have to find time to split between work, my project and of course family. Time has been my challenge but I manage to get by.
What is your favorite indulgence?
My favorite indulgence is play time with my daughters. My sons are older so if anything, we game but my daughters are ages 2 ½ and 7 and we do all kinds of things. From playing tea time to restaurant to pirate detectives, yeah you read that right pirate detectives, that is my favorite time. Don’t get me wrong, time with my entire family is always fun but my daughters have quite the imagination, so they keep me going and having fun.
What is one thing you miss?
One thing I miss is dispatch. Like I said before, I loved the job and I was good at it but I don’t miss the county politics. It made for a toxic environment but towards the end of my dispatch career it seemed as though it was starting to change. I definitely miss my Thin Gold Line family and those out on the road but I feel like I am making a difference in this profession in a way that helps those who do the job I did for so long.
In honor of paying it forward & supporting others, who inspires you?
Who inspires me are those who are working to make a difference in our industry. This could be those who are focusing on the mental health and wellness of 9-1-1 dispatchers to those who are creating technology that will help make the jobs of dispatchers easier and cut down on the horrors of not being able to find a caller when seconds matter or by providing emergency text capabilities when voice is not enough.
I don't know about you but just reading through some his answers gave me the chills! Anything that has to do with children always gets to me the quickest! I am so blessed to have the opportunity to have his podcast featured in the website! Seriously I am so beyond grateful to have crossed paths with this man, who is so beyond passionate about dispatch and is making great strides to change our culture. Helping dispatchers share our stories, letting other dispatchers know they are not alone in their feelings, connecting the public to our stories and what we are dealing with is so important. We need to be hard and get our stories out! Even if it is just to unload our own personal backpack. If this interview has peaked your interest at all I ask that you share this article with them and also please if nothing else give this man your support and follow along with his journey on any of his platforms below as he continues the fight to bring awareness about dispatchers across the world as well as working towards our reclassification!
One last thing! In case you haven't heard about the #911Saves Act bill that was introduced this week please read Ricardo's blog about it here. Also if you already made up your mind about dispatchers needing to be recognized as more as clerical secretaries take action here. I already did all the hard work and this will take less than 2 minutes to fill out and send to your Legislatures! It sounds harder than it is! Trust Me! Do it now and be heard or help us be heard! Be a part of the movement!