I know that APCO offers extensive training and in our state, the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control offers tiered training. In fact, we're hosting one of their basic courses at our Erie County Emergency Services Training & Operations Center in April.
Visit our web site at: and click on the link to NYS OFPC.
If you can access good Spanish to English translators, I may be able to get you some info on a couple of dispatcher ops here in Spain.
Let me know if you think these could help you.
In Phoenix, we have taylored our training program for dispatchers to fit our particular needs, just as we do in most areas of the department. I think we are a tad different than a lot of dispatch centers, in that we actually dispatch for 24 citites, each of which have their own set of rules and desires in how they would like certain incidents dispatched. Thank God for CAD, in that most of those differences can be programmed, thereby making it so that the dispatcher doesn't really have to know or do much of anything different for each city. As for call-taking, we have developed our own EMD program, that is basically structured similar to the Claussen system. We have had our own Fire Department Doctors work very closely with our department, the field, other cities, and even the coroner's office to help develop what we think is a very good EMD system. We are in the process of updating the original EMD system now that we've had it for several years and believe we can further improve in several areas. Our training program is basically 12 weeks long. We used to do all of the class room training at one time, (radios and call-taking) and then the on-the-job training at the end of that. Due to staffing deficiencies a few years ago, we decided to break the class room training into 2 parts. Call-taking, and then Radio Training. After the trainees have gotten their class-room training on phone taking, they are released to work in the room as a call-taker only. (After passing the required standards). We have found this is a great help to the trainees, because while they are in the room working as call-takers, they automatically hear a great deal of radio traffic. This gets them familiar with the lingo before they even begin the training. We then put them back into the classroom for the Radio training. Once again, they are released to the room. The trainees sit with dispatchers at different times throughout the classroom training. At the end of each session, they are assigned to a dispatcher, that sits with them, but lets the trainee do all of the work, until such time that we feel they are capable of sitting by themselves. We did the training in two-parts one year due to extreme staffing deficiencies during the holidays. We figured we could get the new people trained on phones and although they would not be able to work all positions, the phone taking could help us tremendously. This proved to be very beneficial for the trainees in the radio area, so we have kept it that way. We have developed our own check-list and minimum standards that the trainees must pass before being released to work on their own. We stay relatively flexible with the amount of time we keep a trainee in the on-the-job training portion, as we have found some eventual very good dispatchers initially take more time to get to the point of being able to work on their own. Once completely out of training, the dispatcher is on probation for 12 months. During this time, they have monthly tests they must study and pass before they can be released from probation.
I agree with the comment below about APCO having many good classes for dispatchers. They certainly do. From my own experience though, I have found they are very much geared to Police dispatching, which just doesn't always fit the needs of Fire dispatching.
The State of Connecticut has a basic Emeregncy Telecommunicator Training Program which leads to certification, which is required hear in CT. It is a basic entry level program and has moduels regarding call taking, 911 operations, Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement. This is offered at no charge.
Connecticut also requires Emergency Medical Dispatch Training. The Stae reimburses the cost of tuuition, Dispatch Centers have the choice of usingone of five vendors, however the training must match the system used in the dispatch center.
Specific Fire and Law Enforcement dispatch training is left to the Communications center. While we can hope that the State will choose and fund a standard program, this has not come to pass as yet.
I the meantime a number of fine commercial products exist out their, which may meet your needs.
For further information on the Connecticut Emeregncy Telecommunicator courses, go to the State of Connecticut Web Page, CT.gov, from there click on the Executive Branch button and go to the Department of Public Safety site, the info you are looking for is under Office of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications or Office of Education and Data Makagement.
How many times have we found guys on the "short timer" list for retirement assigned to dispastch? More often than not, they have been pretty good FF's but lack communication abilities, computer expertise, etc. Several years ago, as a result of a 76 fatality hotel fire, a major Spanish FD invested a great amount of funds on a sofisticated computer-based communications and dispatching system which inclued complicated data bases on the city's infrastructures, buildings, etc. They hired several computer technicians and put them through the department's firefighter recruit training course. Results: dispatchers know the complicated system inside out and can communicate information in firefighter language. Unfortunately, the is the only FD in the country that did it right. Another city aquired a very similar system but assigned "Short timers" to dispatch. Approx. 75% of the system cannot be used.
John , I'm getting in on this conversation late but if you would send my a copy of the cd you spoke of it would help out with some dispatcher training I'm working on. Worthington Fire 6500 N. High Street Worthington Oh 43085 FF Dave Mierzejewski
Hello all, I am extremely late getting in on this conversation. I am disappointed I missed out on round 1. There are many programs out there that will do what you are looking for. For those of you utilizing home grown or tailored programs; 1 word of caution "Liability". Please make sure for your own personal benefit if you are teaching or designed the program that it is consistent with best practices and the standard of care.
As far as companies and programs out there I am partial to one as I work for PowerPhone based out of CT. The Fire Service Dispatch class I re-wrote 2 years ago from a communications standpoint but from a firefighter perspective. They are taught about fire behavior, may day & urgent transmissions, ICS/NIMS, professionalism, we play recordings of good and bad dispatch practices, I have wav files of pass and low air alarms, etc. etc. etc. I would be happy to go into to deeper detail as to the specifics that we teach for anyone. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Powerphone is not the only program that has this type of class. There are many good trainers from many companies out there. Regardless of who you utilize make sure it's taught by one os us who has communications experience. Not a telecommunicator only. For the sake of our safety fire service dispatch classes must be taught by a firefighter who has specialized experience is communications.
because this topic pertained to dispatching we thought we'd jump in here and let everyone know that we've created a *911 Operator Hybrid Vehicle Accident Awareness Q card for all dispatcher's desk tops.
The Q card is designed to remind dispatchers to ask Yr Make Model of MVA's involving Hybrid Vehicles in order to give First Responders (on route) a heads up prior to their arrival that the vehicle they are about to approach is a Hybrid Vehicle containing High Voltage system components.
This enables First Responders to be better prepared on approach.
The Q cards are Orange in color approx 4" x 6" with a peal off backside so they can be stuck up anywhere at the dispatcher's desk.
New Guides Just Released Sept. 2008
We also offer a Hybrid Vehicle Step by Step High Voltage Shut Down Procedure Guide covering over 24 Hybrid models including the Enova School Bus.
I have found that the most difficult part of trainnig civilians as dispatchers is the fireground terminology. All of the little things that we as firefighters say 50 different ways but all understand. There is just no way of listing or defining all of these things so that the civilian dispatcher listening to the fireground communications instantly understands what is happening and what the IC is asking for or will need next. I have been searching for a few years now on a way to teach this, but have not found a good way yet. It doesn't help that our County has little to no standard definitions of anything.
I'm not knocking the civilian dispatchers, just trying to deal with them hearing the same words, but not hearing the same thing that I do.
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