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Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines For Telecommunicators Finalized

Kris Berg
800-363-9127 EXT.116

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 9, 2016)—A group of 9-1-1 organizations jointly will announce, during the annual National Emergency Number Association (NENA) trade show and conference, that it finalized recommended minimum training guidelines for the nation’s 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers, culminating a three-year effort. The topics to be included in the recommended guidelines were identified by members of the following organizations, as well as other key stakeholders representing the 9-1-1 community, including:

  • Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
  • Connecticut Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection
  • Denise Amber Lee Foundation
  • Fairfax County (Virginia) Department of Public Safety
  • Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network
  • Hamilton County (Indiana) Public Safety Communications
  • International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED)
  • National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA)
  • National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)
  • PowerPhone
  • Priority Dispatch
  • RedSky Technologies
  • Rochester/Monroe County (New York) Emergency Communications Department
  • Stafford County (Virginia) Sheriff’s Office
  • Vail (Colorado) Public Safety Communications Center
  • Weakley County (Tennessee) Emergency 9-1-1

The effort was driven by the belief that it is vitally important Americans receive a consistent level of 9-1-1 service no matter where they live or travel, said Nathan Lee, president of the Denise Amber Lee Foundation.
“Consequently, there must be agreed-upon common elements that ensure the person who answers a 9-1-1 call has met baseline core competencies,” Lee said. “We believe that the result of this effort will be that the public ultimately will receive a more consistent, effective and professional level of service from telecommunicators across the United States.”
While the National 9-1-1 Program has facilitated the Project by providing a forum for discussion and development, the Guidelines are not federally owned or mandated—rather, they are the joint product of members of the Working Group listed above.
The recommended minimum training guidelines cover the following topics:

  • Telecommunicator roles and responsibilities
  • 9-1-1 call processing
  • Radio communications
  • Emergency management
  • Emergency communications technology
  • Legal concepts
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Stress management
  • Quality assurance
  • On-the-job training guidelines

In addition, numerous subtopics were identified for each topic listed above. It should be noted that the topics identified in the Guidelines provide minimum-level understanding. In order to field and manage emergency calls in a live environment, telecommunicators must receive supplemental training that will enable them to process the discipline-specific emergency calls that are fielded by their respective PSAP/9-1-1 Center or Emergency Services Provider.

The Guidelines were vetted by the 9-1-1 community at large, via the NENA Workspace platform, before they were finalized. All comments received were adjudicated by a subcommittee formed specifically for this purpose; the subcommittee was comprised of Working Group members who had volunteered for the task.
“The comments received were positive and supportive of the effort, and the result,” said Laurie Flaherty, program manager for the National 911 Program. “This is a watershed moment for the 9-1-1 community, and many people put their heart and soul into making these guidelines a reality.”
A parallel goal of the Project was to develop Model Legislation for any state that does not currently have legislation concerning minimum training for telecommunicators. For those that do, the Model Legislation is intended as a baseline to ensure that the recommended minimum training topics are being covered.
The Academy’s Emergency Telecommunicator Course (ETC) was developed in the late 1990s and is kept current by the ETC Board of Curriculum. Along with on-the-job training, the ETC course meets and exceeds the recommended minimum training guidelines for all 9-1-1 telecommunicators as redefined in this needed, nationwide framework for the baseline of training required for all 911 calltakers and dispatchers – regardless of the discipline(s) they work in.
When ETC education is combined with the structured call-taking protocols, continuing education training,and quality improvement programs found in the Academy’s Emergency Medical, Fire, Police, and NurseTriage courses, telecommunicators become fully trained and prepared for today’s challenging emergency dispatch environment.