Local agency helps create new 911 training guidelines

WEAKLEY COUNTY, Tenn. — New guidelines for 911 dispatchers have been released that will help first responders all across the country and could potentially save more lives.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 9.39.04 PMThirteen organizations all across the country have worked for almost four years to complete minimum training guidelines for 911 dispatchers.

As of right now less than 20 states have a set of standards required in 911 training, but now a set of basic guidelines has been designed for agencies to use for free to help better serve their communities.

Officials said that more than 6,000 911 centers across the states take more than 240 million emergency calls a year, and in many of those states dispatcher have little to no required training.

“We are that primary point of contact, it is very important for us to have the appropriate training,” Weakley County 911 Director Jamison Peevyhouse said.

But less than half the states have any training required of their 911 dispatchers.

“We have worked together to come up with a guideline that any entity can follow, it basically serves as the floor for training for any 911 telecommunicator in the United States. It should be the minimum training,” Peevyhouse said.

Katie Perry is the dispatch supervisor at the Martin Police Department, and she said she believes these guidelines will allow all dispatchers to have the same kind of training.

“When I first started 19 years ago we only had a few weeks of training, it does not compare to the training we receive now,” she said.

Officials say these training guidelines will help in situations like multi-jurisdictional emergencies by smoothing over the work flow to potentially save more lives.

“It’s very broad, it covers a multitude of topics and subtopics and cross training between all disciplines like emergency response, law, fire, EMS, search and rescue, emergency management,” Peevyhouse said.

The recommended minimum training guidelines cover the following topics:

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

Officials said Weakley County 911 was chosen because their model is similar to around 85 percent of all call centers across the nation, and helped find a reasonable minimum requirement for all agencies to use.

“If you are in New York City, you should get the same level of training that you get in Jackson, Tennessee, and right now that’s not true,” Peevyhouse said.

Right now Tennessee already has a required set of standards for 911 training in place, however emergency officials will be working in Tennessee this year to raise and exceed the current standards to include these guidelines.

These guidelines are not mandatory in all states, however organizations are working to help emergency communications personnel in states without minimum requirements to enact these standards.

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