In any field of work you are always learning something new. This is even more true when it comes to being a 9-1-1 dispatcher. It’s one of the things that pulled me in when I first started back in 2001. I’m one of those people who get bored very easily. For example, if I’m reading an article it has to draw me in during the first paragraph or I am on to the next one. Naturally, work is the same way. So when I first started, the thought of helping others and coming into a job that wasn’t going to be the same everyday appealed to me.
My training at the beginning was minimal at best. I watched my trainer take a 9-1-1 call and then it was my turn. I was floored and thought he was joking but he was dead serious. Luckily, my first 9-1-1 call was an accident. I mean, the person who called, called on accident. It wasn’t a vehicle accident. From there I took a beginner 40-hour training course. We learned a lot, but it wasn’t focused on suicidal callers or active shooters, hell it wasn’t even on stress management and in reality, what the hell was stress management? It wasn’t a topic that I remember being mentioned when I first started.
You learn as you go and sometimes that is the best training. Nothing is the same, well, except for the call types, but one can almost guarantee that even though the call type is the same, the situation will be completely different. Again, you learn something new every day. As you continue to work you continue to train, but focused training is needed. It wasn’t until I started working for a much larger agency that I was able to experience focused training. It was then that I learned how to handle workplace negativity, leadership, stress management, active shooters and suicidal callers.
The classes were few and far between during my last 8 years in dispatch but it made me a better dispatcher. It provided the tools I needed to stay at the top of my game. If you can, I recommend seeking out training courses that will help you throughout your career. I know it seems easier said than done. I know that not all of you or your agencies can send you to any class you want because of money or being short staffed but you can search the Internet for different types of training or courses that offer premium content at an affordable price. Had I thought about it back when I was dispatching I would have taken more training courses.
One of the things I want to start doing to sharing information on training companies out there that focus on the topics that I have mentioned in this article. The first is Kim Turner, LLC. Kim is the current Communications Manager at San Bernardino out of California. She lives and breathes dispatch. She has worked on both sides of the radio and her team of elite trainers bring a new look at dispatch training for the next generation of 9-1-1. It is important to continue learning in the field of 9-1-1 dispatch. It has evolved from being a dispatcher to an emergency communications specialist.
For more information on continuing education with Kim Turner, LLC please visit the links below along with some descriptions on courses this company offers.
Dispatch Active Shooter Situations is a dynamic training class and the only one of its kind that blends the role of dispatchers in communications with the perspective of field personnel responding to the incident. This class explores the role of tactical communications to better prepare dispatchers to handle phone calls, manage radio traffic, and coordinate responding resources, as well as a resiliency component to help them after handling the traumatic incident. Facilitated by a SWAT Team Leader and Tactical Dispatch Team Leader this course sets the standard for dispatch operations.
Police and fire dispatchers handle various types of critical incidents. Natural disasters, criminal, and non-criminal incidents of a high priority can have dramatic impacts on dispatch operations. This class examines different critical incidents and the working partnerships between dispatchers and field-responders to best optimize response and handling of these events. What sets us apart is our ability to bridge the gap between the field and dispatch.
Stress Management for Supervisors and Managers
Communication supervisors and managers experience stress like their front-line employees. However, their stressors are uniquely related to their position as a leader. This is the only class in California specifically designed to equip supervisors and managers with leadership tools to resolve personnel conflict and develop resiliency for themselves and their employees.
Trauma Exposure and Management
The chronic stress of being exposed to traumatic incidents can have a heavy toll on the work performance and personal health of public-safety dispatchers. This class dives deeper into the psychology of trauma to give dispatchers a better understanding and help them become resilient, both individually and as an organization.