Top Comm Center Headlines
CALL TO ACTION! New legislation has been introduced in the state of California to recognize dispatchers as First Responders. Show your support and help this legislation gain traction. Call or email your representative today! READ MORE
SALT LAKE CITY — In many areas across the state from Saturday through Sunday, emergency dispatchers and police departments let the public know that 9-1-1 wasn't working on some mobile devices. "We learned about it yesterday [Saturday] that 9-1-1 didn't appear to...
More and more 911 dispatch centers and county emergency management agencies in the state have implemented a system for users to contact 911 through text message – but the capability isn’t available everywhere. Greg Leathers, the director of Greene County Emergency...
Telecommunicators are the true first responders and a critical link in the cardiac arrest chain of survival; a telecommunicator can make the difference between life and death. One critical intervention strongly associated with survival is cardiopulmonary resuscitation...
The Snoqualmie City Council will host an open house to showcase public safety services. The open house will take place form 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 29 at the Snoqualmie fire station (37600 Snoqualmie Parkway, Snoqualmie). It is not the first event the city council will...
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — A 12-year-old boy was given the 9-1-1 Hero award Friday for his quick actions when a fight broke out between two dogs at his home on Jan. 9. Andrew Gravil immediately called 9-1-1 after a dog severely bit his grandmother. Dispatcher Mindy...
The House of Representatives is looking to strengthen public safety network resiliency with two new pieces of legislation. Earlier this week Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., and Communications and Technology Subcommittee member Rep....
TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Indiana House Bill 1198 is waiting approval from Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. It already passed the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate. It's a bipartisan bill allowing more public safety jobs to be under the umbrella of first...
Carbon County's 911 Center has released its 2019 annual report. The county's dispatch center answered a record number of calls in the last year. Directors attribute the increase to more people and more activity in the county, which can in turn mean more emergencies....
Are you responsible for making sure your IT solution is Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act compliant? If so, recent articles like this No Jitter article are a great place to start. The next step then is to determine what’s important and what to do. This article should...
Cell phone users within Alameda city limits now have the ability to send emergency text messages to the Alameda Police Department. Texting is an option when it is unsafe to use your voice to make a 911 call, if you’re unable to speak due to an emergency or for the...
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It takes Albuquerque police 23 minutes longer to get you than it did eight years ago. A Target 7 investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department’s response times shows there has been a 93 percent since increase 2011 and response times have...
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) is bringing enhancements to the FirstNet network in New Hampshire ahead of schedule. AT&T and Gov. Chris Sununu recently hosted an event to celebrate. FirstNet is a nationwide, wireless communications...
By Brent Williams, Senior EMS Advisor, First Responder Network Authority
Junction City Fire Department’s EMS services a rural, Midwest community in Kansas, which presents some communication challenges. To address these challenges, Junction City Fire Department uses FirstNet, whether for long distance transports to the nearest trauma facility, coordinating regional recovery efforts after a tornado, or deploying across the country to respond to a national disaster.
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Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal traveled to Washington, D.C., last week as one of eight individuals and organizations recognized for their contributions to providing a better 911 service and support for dispatchers. Wes Wright, Next Generation 911 (NG911)...
LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The City of Longview is urging residents to sign up for its new emergency alert system. Smart911 launched Feb. 15 and replaces the old CodeRED system. Residents who were signed up with the old system must opt in with the Smart911 system. City...
The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) is pleased to announce that their Integrated Services Program (ISP) won the Outstanding 911 Call Center/Program award. The Next Generation 911 Institute (NG911 Institute) announced the winners of the 17th...
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - In an emergency, time is of the essence, but if you call 911 in Manatee County, you can count on a new program that will help first responders get to you faster than ever before. It’s thanks to a new, first-of-its-kind state grant that was just...
Overview Open & closing dates: Opening and closing dates 02/21/2020 to 03/09/2020Service: CompetitivePay scale & grade: GS 5Salary: $30,113 to $39,149 per yearAppointment type: PermanentWork schedule: Full-Time...
The Accomack County Board of Supervisors voted to advertise public hearings for the fiscal year 2021 budget and the tax rate, after making changes to provide for the first year of costs associated with a regional public safety radio communications system. [...] A...
With the proposed sale of AT&T to Liberty Puerto Rico the Federal Communications Commission has to consider not only the inherent commercial elements of this transaction. They must also evaluate how does that transaction affect the public safety/emergency...
Thanks to modern mobile devices, near-ubiquitous Internet connectivity, and a plethora of free social media and sharing applications, we can send photos to our families from across the world, video chat in real time with distant friends, and upload our voices to the...
Since December 2015, I've had the honor and privilege to recognize our local law enforcement members every Friday on what we call #BlueFriday. Toady, I got a call from a local Jersey resident who asked if we'd make a special mention of 9-1-1 dispatchers. What a...
Last spring, we outlined how 3D location can increase situational awareness and improve operational efficiency for public safety responders. At the time, this was a somewhat hypothetical scenario as 3D location technology had been proven but not yet implemented. Since then 3D location capability has been available to application developers through an over-the-top capability.
I recall sitting in a 911 center recruitment session and recruiters talking to me about the lifesaving work of a 911 dispatcher. They explained the job duties, job responsibilities, job demands, and even the job stress. “Wow,” I thought. “I can do this. I can help people.”
Crime statistics involving firearms, domestic violence, sexual assaults, active shooter events, and workplace violence fill our news headlines. Particularly troubling is the instance of officer-involved shootings, especially those resulting in the death of a civilian.
The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED™) has determined that quality is “conformance to requirements,” according to the Performance Standards 10th Edition, but who determines what is required?
Will Grace take the leap to a new career as a public safety telecommunicator?
By Matt Schreiner
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a series of fictional dramatizations about the trials and tribulations of a public safety telecommunicator. The story is fictional, but the circumstances are real for many employed in public safety communications.
From her vantage point in the parking lot, Grace could clearly see the entryway to the building she hoped would lead to a new career and a bright future for her and her 3-year-old son, Nick.
Blazoned across the glass of the door in bright, gold lettering it read: “Taggart County Emergency Communications”.
As she sat in the front seat of her car, nervously contemplating walking through that door, she reminisced about how she had come to this moment.
In the last four years, following high school, Grace had spent time trying to figure out exactly what it was she wanted to do. She had worked a few office jobs but found them monotonous, and the pay wasn’t enough to support her and Nick. So she had started to work a couple nights a week at the local 24-hour diner to supplement her income.
Eventually, it became clear to her that being a waitress, while not ideal, enabled her to bring home enough money to make ends meet, and she enjoyed the work. It was much faster paced than office work, and she found that she really enjoyed interacting with the patrons of the restaurant and providing them with good service. But she knew she could do more, and there was something out there that held more promise, and more security, for her. She just hadn’t found it yet.
Being a single mom and working full-time certainly presented challenges. Between her mom and dad, and her sister Teri, who was married with two children of her own, and Nick’s dad, they all managed to ensure that Nick was being taken care of. She knew she was lucky to have them, but really wanted to be able to take care of Nick on her own.
One evening, one of the regulars, who happened to be a cop, had asked her, “Grace, what’s a bright young girl like you doing in a place like this?” His name was Mark, and Grace had always liked him. He wasn’t aloof like some of the other cops who frequented the diner. She guessed he was in his mid-to-late forties, and he often came into the diner with his wife and kids on weekends. He was personable, and was always in a good mood. But something about this question made her feel defensive.
“Mostly, dealing with knuckleheads like you,” she responded with a wry smile.
He laughed, and said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it, but there’s a couple openings for dispatchers at the 9-1-1 center, and I thought you might be interested. You’d be perfect for that job, and they have good benefits, too. You should look into it.”
Grace was intrigued, but responded, “Wow, not sure I could do THAT job! Sounds complicated, and stressful.”
“It’s challenging work, no question about it. But you’re quick and able to think on your feet. I see how you handle some of us ‘knuckleheads,’ and that’s a big part of the job.” He reached into his front pocket, took out his notepad and began to write. “Look, here’s the website to go to and get the process started, if you’re interested. Put my name in as a reference, and I’ll let them know to keep an eye out for your application. Let me know what you want to do, but you need to act soon if you want to get in.”
He got up and left the paper on the counter with his tip. Grace eyed it, laying there on the counter; she scooped it up, along with the money, and forgot about it as she went about her duties for the rest of the shift.
At the end of the night, as she was counting her tips, she came across Mark’s note. Something about it piqued her interest. What did she have to lose? She made up her mind to at least go to the website and see what it was all about.
The next morning, she woke up and after getting Nick started off on his day, sat down at her computer and brought up the website that Mark had provided. She clicked on the “careers” link and read the job description.
Telecommunicator, Level II
Taggart County Emergency Communications currently has openings for entry-level public safety telecommunicators. Essential responsibilities of the 9-1-1 public safety telecommunicator include:
– Receiving and processing 9-1-1 calls
– Dispatching emergency services to specified locations
– Transmitting vital information to emergency personnel
Candidates for this position should have excellent communication skills and show great attention to detail. Submit your application now to become a 9-1-1 Dispatcher with the County of Taggart using the link below!
“Well,” she thought to herself, “I don’t know anything about most of that, but if Mark thinks I’d do well at it, let’s give it a try.” So she spent the next hour or so setting about completing the application. When she had it completed, she held her mouse over the “submit” button for what seemed like a long time. She knew that what she was about to do could change her life forever. For some reason, it seemed like a big moment in her life, but she didn’t quite know why it felt that way.
Just then Nick came into the room. “Mommy? Can you help me with this drawing?” She quickly clicked the button and turned her attention to Nick and his drawing.
The next time she saw Mark at the diner, she told him she had applied. She thought he was more excited about the idea than she was!
“That’s GREAT!” he said. “I’ll make sure the right people know and get you to the top of the list!”
Later that same day she received a phone call from the County.
“Hello, this is Grace.”
“Hi, Grace. This is Pat from Taggart County Emergency Communications. Have you got a few minutes to talk about the telecommunicator role you applied for?”
Grace’s heart was racing. She tried to remain calm, and said “Sure.”
They spent about 10 minutes talking, but that was enough to know she was excited about the idea of starting a new career. Pat brought up the sometimes long hours and the fact she might have to work overnight shifts and that she was not always going to have holidays and weekends off but would be paid at time and a half. She responded that she actually had similar hours at the restaurant now. She remembers thinking, “Wow! Getting paid extra to work holidays! Woohoo!”
Then Pat said her restaurant job was one of the reasons that they found her application so interesting. He explained that the skills and temperament people develop waiting tables are similar to those required to be a successful telecommunicator.
When Grace asked why, Pat said, “Well, first, you have a LOT of contact with the public, and people who work for tips learn how to manage all different types of people, including unhappy customers. Second, you have to learn to prioritize tasks and remember details about several things going on at the same time. Third, as you mentioned, restaurant folks have already gotten used to working hours that others might find unreasonable. We have several operators who have a history of working in the restaurant industry”
Grace had never thought about that. She had developed the ability to calm down angry customers, was pretty good at being able to make sure her customers never waited for anything, and even had developed the ability to take orders without having to write anything down. I guess Mark might be on to something. Maybe she really did have skills!
Pat told her if she was interested there would be a “testing” and interview in two weeks at the emergency communications center. Grace said, “I’ll be there!”
Grace arrived at the designated place and time. She walked into a large training room with rows of tables and computers.
A woman named Susan asked her to sign in and take a seat at any open position. There were about 15 other people there. She was nervous and excited, and her “butterflies,” as she called them, began doing somersaults in her stomach.
Susan explained that she was one of the supervisors at the ECC, and she had the additional role of being the training coordinator. Grace liked her right away. She had a calm, easy manner about her that made Grace feel as though she would trust her with just about anything, including Nick, and that was saying something.
Susan ran the test, and it lasted about two hours. It consisted of five sections: reading comprehension, listening, problem solving, prioritizing and multi-tasking.
After the test, she sat with two other ECC supervisors. They talked about the long hours, the challenges of being a single mother, and some of the other challenges she would face like angry callers, difficult officers and so on. But they also described how rewarding the job could be, and that it was a real opportunity to actually make a difference in the lives of people in the community.
On the way home, her head was reeling. She was not sure she had really followed during the listening test. She was pretty sure the noises coming into her ears through the headset were voices, but it came at her so fast and furious she wasn’t 100% sure she had captured it all correctly. It was sure a lot different from taking orders for breakfast and coffee!
During the next couple of weeks she and Mark talked about what the job was like, and the more she learned, the more she was certain she really wanted that job. It sounded exciting and challenging. While Mark hadn’t sugar-coated it for her, it certainly sounded better than anything the restaurant had to offer.
About a week later, she got the call that they wanted her to begin training the first week of next month, and her heart soared! She immediately found Nick and gave him the tightest hug she had ever given him, tears of joy running down her cheeks.
“What’s the matter, Mommy?” Nick asked. “Nothing, Baby! Everything’s going to be all right …”
As she sat in her car, getting herself ready to go through that door, her butterflies started to do their somersaults again.
“You can do this, girl” she thought to herself. She got out of the car, walked up the stairs and read the door one more time: “Taggart County Emergency Communications”. She said out loud: “Well, this oughta be interesting …” She opened the door and walked in.
Find a new adventure every month from Grace’s life as a telecommunicator at psc.apcointl.org/grace.
Matt Schreiner has passionately worked for over 25 years to provide public safety with innovative technology solutions and tools to enable them to meet their life-safety mission, and is currently lending his talents to Motorola Solutions.
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