Training to answer 911 calls at NWTC

June 18, 2013

From “Training to answer 911 calls” — A pilot program designed to help ease the training and hiring strain on dispatch centers in Northeast Wisconsin is now complete.

They are the newest faces of the future of emergency dispatch. Pending results of a national exam, Monday ten people are becoming certified as emergency dispatchers through a new class at NWTC, teaching them what it’s like on the other end of a 911 call.

“You have no idea what they all have going on their plates as they’re taking that call, plus trying to get the emergency, whether it’s the cops, the ambulances out to you, all the pressure that’s on their shoulders. It really gives you an understanding,” says Tonia Geibel, a student of the dispatcher class and current EMS worker in Door County.

As Action 2 News has reported over the last several months, NWTC partnered with Kewaunee and Brown Counties to create this introduction to dispatching class, partly in response to staffing problems in Brown County’s Communication Center.

The class is designed to reduce the amount of on-the-job training needed and eliminate the number of people who take a dispatching job, then quit suddenly when they realize it’s not for them.

“Any amount of time is very helpful for us, because we do have turnover. That’s part of the industry. We’re trying to reduce it as much as possible, but by having trained people, qualified people coming into the program and being able to reduce that, it takes less time for us to get people on the floor,” says Brown County Public Safety Communications Director Cullen Peltier.

“Out of the class of 10, we have about eight that have expressed an interest to apply as dispatchers,” says NWTC Criminal Justice Instructor John Flannery, who taught the dispatcher class.

While those in the class would still need training in the specific agency they work, depending on success, this class may soon become a requirement to even apply in some agencies.

“That’s in the consideration phase at this point. It’s definitely preferred to have class under their belt before they come to us, because what it does for us is reduce training time,” says Peltier.

This first class was a sort of pilot to see if the program would even work, but already there’s interest for another class, likely to start in September.

“They seemed to really enjoy it and got a real good taste of what dispatching is all about,” says Flannery.

“Now I understand when they get that call, everything they have to go through before I even get that page to go out,” says Geibel.


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