The Changing Role of 911 Call Takers

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With our changing times and requirements, many cities and counties throughout the United States are looking at changing the way they respond to the variety of citizen calls. This change in basic premise looks at tailoring the response to the type of service requested or needed.
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In November 1967, the FCC met with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) to find a means of establishing a universal emergency number that could be implemented quickly. In 1968, AT&T announced that it would establish the digits 911 as the emergency code throughout the United States. In many cases, it was also used for non-emergency assistance.  It became a natural progression that police, fire, and EMS were dispatched for everything a citizen requested.

With our changing times and requirements, many cities and counties throughout the United States are looking at changing the way they respond to the variety of citizen calls.  This change in basic premise looks at tailoring the response to the type of service requested or needed.

The problem for many Emergency Communication Centers is identifying the incident when it first comes through communications as a mental health situation. The initial information provided is often vague or non-specific i.e., “someone is screaming”; “I hear people arguing and fighting”; “there is a suspicious person walking around my property”, etc. Centers are scrambling to figure out what are the correct questions to ask and at what point in time is the situation and/or the caller sent to a non-public safety entity for a civilian response.
 
The process to develop policies and procedures can be complicated because it not only affects communications, but it also needs to consider the first responders and the mental health agencies and civilian response team’s involvement. Many states have recently imposed de-escalation and use of force procedures that are being interpreted differently by many of the local law enforcement departments’ legal staff.  This only adds to the overwhelming task of developing policies that can be utilized effectively within the communications center.
 
Some examples of what might need to be addressed include:
  1. Criteria used to determine if a call is handled outside of the normal call taking process.
  2. Clearly defined function between call taking and dispatching.
  3. How is call tracked, by who (i.e., call taker) and for how long?
  4. New policies and procedures for first responders.
  5. Compliance with Federal, State, and local ordinances.
  6. How will the new 988 number change your current policies and procedures?
  7. Need to look at re-engineering the call taking/dispatching process?
  8. Developing Inter-local Agreements with any new agency or organization that will become part of this new process.
Winbourne Consulting has the experts on staff to work with your communication center, legal department, civilian organizations, and law enforcement agencies to develop a strategic plan to address this changing landscape.
 

For additional information, contact Winbourne Consulting at info@w-llc.com.

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