Why the Detroit Pistons and BELFOR Restorations supported renovating 911 call center

Earl Cureton, Hooper and Pistons Dancers pose with a 911 Call Center operator
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
by Vince Ellis
Special for Pistons.com

The job stresses of police officers, firefighters and paramedics are well known.

But for those tasked with manning phones to answer calls from scared residents going through some kind of potentially life-threatening trauma, the stresses aren’t as well known.

Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said the shifts of 911 call center operators can be just as stressful as the duties of more visible first responders.

“Imagine for a moment that every day your job is to listen to a person’s worst day and compound that with having to send someone to help those experiencing their worst day – or their last day,” Jones said Thursday morning at Detroit Public Safety headquarters.

The goal of providing the call center operators a stress-free environment to decompress is the reason why the Detroit Pistons and Belfor Property Restoration teamed up to support the first responder community.

Pistons representatives and police and fire department officials unveiled the renovated 911 call center quiet rooms at headquarters located in downtown Detroit. Also as part of the gift from the Pistons and Belfor, 50 new office chairs where donated. New furniture was purchased for the quiet rooms as well as wall art.

The rooms were dedicated to former 911 call center employees Shawn Pride and Delondra Smith, who both died during COVID-19 pandemic. Members of their families were on hand for the dedication.

Interim Detroit Police chief James White thanked the families, as well as thanking the Pistons and Belfor for the donation.

“These gifts will have an enormous impact on our mission to provide the highest level of service to our community,” White said.

The idea for the gift came when a previous partner backed out of a pledge to renovate the quiet rooms shortly after the pandemic began.

The Pistons, who were active in supporting healthcare workers during the pandemic, reached out to see if there was a way to support first responders. The answer was immediate.

The quiet rooms serve as a place to mentally recover following long shifts of constant emergency phone calls. During the pandemic, these phone calls became more frequent, creating an even greater need for quiet rooms and mental health resources for call center employees.

Pistons legend Earl Cureton was on hand to represent the franchise and echoed the words of owner Tom Gores, who has called the Pistons a community asset.
“Since moving back to the city, our owner Tom Gores’ main goal was to be impactful in the community and do positive things. We’ve done a lot of that, but this is really a special thing to do,” Cureton said.

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