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9-1-1 Magazine: Managing Emergency Communications

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"Can You Hear Me Now?" - Hearing Health & The Public Safety Telecommunicator

The art of listening by the dispatcher demands a high level of hearing. To do less would be an injustice to the dispatcher, the employer and the citizen who might only get one chance in a lifetime to call 9-1-1 for help! After many years in this field, I feel that the time has come to bring this deficiency to the forefront.

2013 PSAP Survey: Stratus Talks About the Results

Late last year Stratus created a 19-question survey that featured questions on call volume, staffing, next-generation 9-1-1 plans, use of virtualization technologies, system outages and more. With the Survey completed and results analyzed, 9-1-1 magazine interviewed Dave LeClair, Senior Direct of Strategy & Product Management for Stratus Technologies, to detail the results they found - and what they mean to PSAP technology and operations for 2014.

9 1 1 Association Praises FCC Move on Robocalls

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has praised an FCC action aimed at decreasing the incidence of telemarketing "robocalls." ...The rulemaking, announced February 15th, would not allow PSAPs to stop informational, charity, or political calls, however. "This is a great first step, and we hope the FCC and Congress will follow it up with the changes needed to ensure that all telemarketing calls to PSAPs become a thing of the past..."

9-1-1 Dispatchers Can Save More Lives by Coaching Bystanders in CPR

More people will survive sudden cardiac arrest when 9-1-1 dispatchers help bystanders assess victims and begin CPR immediately, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

9-1-1 For Sale: The Politics of the Public/Private Partnership

Overall, we've learned to deal, or at least make do with the technology, and the private firms seemed to at least offer some benefit to a unique niche in our population that we were under serving. Recently, however, there seems to be a new trend toward selling services with a broader appeal. But as appealing as they may seem to the public to whom they are marketed, some are raising questions within the 9-1-1 community...

9-1-1 Groundhog Day?

In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character wakes up every morning in the exact same place, at the exact same time, always having to repeat the same day - Groundhog Day. No matter what he experiences, he still wakes up having to repeat the day. Although he tries strategies to escape, nothing works; he still wakes up the next day to the same mess. I hear from many 9-1-1 leaders that their work to bring about 'positive lasting change' feels like Groundhog Day. So how can leaders...

9-1-1 Industry Alliance is Now The Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies

The trade association originally founded as the 9-1-1 Industry Alliance (9IA) has announced its expanded role and new organizational name. The 9-1-1 Industry Alliance is now the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies, iCERT.

9-1-1 Legislation News: Laws Enacted During 2013

Would you like to know what kind of 9-1-1 laws were passed during 2013? Are you interested in finding out which states have updated their 9-1-1 statutes? A resource is now available to assist State and local PSAP Managers, 9-1-1 Authorities, legislators and local and regional officials nationwide in keeping track of legislative changes affecting 9-1-1 services. An aggregate list of key 2013 enactments has been posted on the 9-1-1 Legislation Tracking Database at NCSL 9-1-1 Legislative...

9/11/11: Ten Years Gone

For everyone of us who watched the towers fall and understood the loss not in terms of concrete and steel, but in the content of lockers to be carefully gathered and delivered to loved ones, and of roll calls to which there would never be an answer there will always be the question "have we done enough?"

A Hidden Benefit of Cooperative Purchasing: Vendor and Contract Management

There has been a lot of discussion about how cooperative purchasing and co-ops help the public sector save time and money. However, one little known advantage of purchasing through a co-op is vendor and contract management. Well-run cooperative purchasing organizations are active in managing contracts and vendor performance.

A Matter of Perception

Public Perception and the 9-1-1 Dispatcher

Access 9-1-1: Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device

Since this month's issue historically appears in conjunction with the National Emergency Number Association's annual conference, I thought that it might be appropriate to discuss the new trademarked tagline that has become associated with NENA. On the surface, it's a pretty catchy tune; "Emergency Help - Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device." And granted, it does pretty much sum up the state of our business, and where we are most likely headed. But beyond the printed words, what does it really...

Accreditation and Quality Assurance

The first of a two-part series on Accreditation and Quality Assurance, Cory Friend, Accreditation Coordinator at PowerPhone, Inc., discusses the Accreditation process, including the agency self-evaluation. The components of a successful Accreditation process and the benefits to be derived will be explored. The second article will detail the importance of Quality Assurance to the Accreditation process and the steps necessary to implement an effective QA program.

Aladtec, Inc. Announces Branding Consolidation for public safety scheduling software products

Aladtec, Inc., the company behind the popular online employee scheduling and workforce management systems, EMS Manager, FIRE Manager, and Zanager, is rebranding and consolidating these products to simply...Aladtec. In addition to a different product logo, users will also notice a new and more modern interface on both the Aladtec desktop application and the mobile version.

Analytics - Good Business For Public Safety

Voice and data analytics have been a positive influence in private business for years. This technology has proven to be a productive tool for improving customer service; recognizing trends improving products, productivity, customer needs and desires; and improving call handling by customer services representatives. Only recently has this technology been recognized as having potential in the Public Safety environment.

Anger Management in the PSAP

Anger affects our bodies, our minds and our behavior. In can be like a toxin that can either help us or hurt us. Think of it like chemotherapy. If you have something bad happening to you and you have to deal with it, sometimes you need a stronger does of "something" to fight it. In the case of anger, you are reacting to something that has gotten out of control, or your old methods of dealing are no longer working so anger came to the rescue...

APCO International Appoints Derek Poarch as Executive Director

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International has announced the appointment of Derek K. Poarch as executive director. Poarch comes to APCO International with more than 30 years of public safety experience, and demonstrated leadership in law enforcement and federal telecommunications policy.

Botnets are a Serious Threat to First Responders

The unfortunate reality for public safety organizations that house confidential and sensitive data, including the personal information of employees and citizens, is that there is no end to cybersecurity threats such as botnets, worms, and hacking.

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?

Current trends and challenges in 9-1-1 Center funding

Business Process Optimization for Public Safety Answering Points

Historically, Public Safety Answering Points were equipped with communications recording systems for protection from liability due to legal evaluation of emergencies. This function was facilitated by time stamps, protection from tampering and assurance of fail-safe operation.

Cassidian Releases Aurora 2.0, Latest MIS for 9-1-1 Centers

Cassidian Communications, an EADS North America company, announces the latest release of the company's next generation management information system (MIS), Aurora. The Aurora 2.0 solution includes new features and enhancements with significant performance benefits designed to increase operational efficiencies and improve critical decision making in single- and multi-site 9-1-1 agencies.

Cloud-Based Services: It's All Silver Lining for Public Safety

Cloud-based services give public safety agencies fast, easy access to feature functionality on a flexible, scalable and secure infrastructure... By moving premises-based technology infrastructures to off-site, managed, cloud-based solutions, PSAPs can experience real benefits in terms of flexibility, scalability, and security.

Disaster Management: A Death in the Family

As a communications center manager, I can only imagine what my counterparts who were directly responsible for dispatching the initial responses had to cope with. What was the mindset in New York City where radio calls to company after company on the scene at the World Trade Center went unanswered? How did the telecommunicators in Arlington, Virginia respond when their focus turned from the CNN reports from Manhattan to the real world scenario unfolding at the Pentagon, right outside their...

Dispatcher engineered stirring tribute to fallen Marine

On nearly every I-280 overpass along the funeral procession's route from Milpitas to San Bruno, firefighters stood by to honor a young man they never knew. The touching display was orchestrated by San Jose Fire Department dispatcher Tracy Deitschman, a 27-year department veteran determined that even amid the holiday hustle and bustle, we not forget that young Americans are dying far away in Afghanistan and Ira

Dispatchers for North Memorial Ambulance Services (MN) Find 24/7 Scheduling Access, via Aladtec, a Valuable Department Asset

Dispatchers In The Clouds: Cloud Computing and the Modern PSAP

The future model of law enforcement communications centers is on the verge of a paradigm shift, one which will vastly change the way dispatching services are provided. In the near future, your communications center will likely integrate cloud-based technology. To take advantage of the cloud for emergency communications, though, we must first understand the long-term benefits of cloud-based communications centers, have clarity regarding options for deployment, and work to obtain the tools...

Dispatching in Slippers: The Future of Public Safety Communication Centers?

The "Anytown" Police Department took a page from the private sector and had taken advantage of having employees working from home. They realized that the role of the Public Safety Dispatcher has evolved from being just a job for a clerk to answer the phone and radio. Their roles are now that of highly skilled professionals who fill a unique niche that few can replace... But Pat and his fellow Anytown dispatchers had phones routed to their homes, along with all of the computer equipment...

Evaluating Emergency Calls: Tools for Dispatcher Effectiveness

Public safety communications centers that record calls for compliance shouldn't overlook the usefulness of those recordings in evaluating dispatcher performance. That's a lesson learned from the call center industry, where recording and evaluation is widespread.

Fire Departments Improve Response Time with Amerilert First Responder

Omnilert has announced that more fire departments have recently implemented Amerilert First Responder to improve reliability of dispatching and shorten response times to emergencies. 17 Fire Departments are listed in the company’s roster of new clients.

From 9/11 to 9-1-1: What the Death of Bin Laden Means to Us

Late on the evening of Sunday, May 1, President Barack Obama announced to the world that Osama Bin Laden was dead; ending a decade long search for what many believed to be the poster child for terrorism... So now that the dust from the chopper blades has cleared the compound, and we have a clear view, just what does all of this mean to public safety? Unfortunately, a clear view doesn't mean a clear answer.

From the Chair: "Living La Vida Macro"

Airplanes have black boxes. Sports, the instant replay. And dispatchers have the call logger. Each of these is invaluable when analyzing an incident. However, they don't tell the whole story. This is especially true of loggers in the dispatch center. This installment of "From the Chair" discusses the pitfalls of using a single-channel recording when investigating the handling of a call.

From the Chair: April Foolishness

It's amazing how time flies! April 2013 marks the one-year anniversary of "From the Chair" - a featured column in 9-1-1Magazine written for the frontline 9-1-1 telecommunicator. Its author - Paul Bagley - took us on a wild ride through the ever-changing landscape of public safety emergency communications. His breezy style was frequently irreverent, often whimsical, and sometimes touching. To conclude its first year, and to usher in the next, the latest installment takes a fun look at the...

From the Chair: Chaos and Staffing

The character David Brent, from the BBC series "The Office," is known for his saying, "If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven't understood the seriousness of the situation." When referring to a PSAP we can rewrite that to say, "If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you are probably a telecommunicator." In this installment of From the Chair, Paul uses the paraphrase of Brent's humor to write about how the outbreak...

From the Chair: Is 9-1-1 Really a System?

Do you know what 9-1-1 is? Do you know how it works? Do you know what it's for? In this article, Paul raises and discusses several thought-provoking questions about the 9-1-1 system's past, present, and future.

From the Chair: Our Hang Ups

In this installment, "Our Hang Ups," Paul discusses the nemesis of all dispatchers - the hang up and dropped call. He reminiscences a bit about the good old days when dispatching was little more than answering the phone and sending someone out. He then turns his attention to the brave new world where the onrush of new technologies is profoundly altering the operation of the PSAP, and creating ever-increasing challenges for the modern telecommunicator. To paraphrase the late American hero...

From the Chair: Requiem for a Dispatcher

When you think of hazardous jobs what comes to mind: firefighters, high-rise steel workers, bomb disposal technicians, 9-1-1 dispatchers? Dispatchers? What is the hazard of sitting in a secure room behind a cluster of computer monitors, answering phone calls, and talking on a radio? Plenty! In this edition of "From the Chair," Paul Bagley presents a real-life cautionary tale to remind us just how dangerous dispatching can be. The take-away lesson may just save your life.

From the Chair: The Holidays Approach - Big Whoop!

In the latest installment of From the Chair, Paul turns his attention to the holiday season. With an irreverent wink, some humor, and a dash of sarcasm, Paul looks at the relationship between holidays and the 9-1-1 telecommunicator. The article concludes with a poignant message to those who find themselves in the chair on those special days.

Geographic Technologies Group to aid Dothan with E9-1-1 & MSAG update

Geographic Technologies Group (GTG) has been awarded a contract to improve the street centerline layer for Dothan, Alabama. The centerline layer will be used in conjunction with their E9-1-1 and will be utilized to update their master street address guide (MSAG).

Grime Prevention: Do Your Comm Center Consoles Need Cleaning?

Walk into any emergency dispatch facility today, no matter where, and look just beneath the surface. There you will find a disgusting mess worthy of a cable television reality show. Greasy grime. Dust bunnies running rampant. Coffee stains. Food particles deep inside cavities seemingly lost forever. Computers and radio equipment covered in filth.

Hey Everybody - It's Our Week!

Believe it or not, it's that time again; National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week. Created by an act of Congress during the Clinton administration, it sets aside the second full week of April every year as a time to honor and acknowledge our brothers and sisters who work tirelessly during all fifty-two weeks of every year. As best as I can determine, the good folks in Contra Costa, California (or specifically one good folk at the Sheriff's Office named Patricia Anderson) came up with...

I Swear!

In 1972, Comedian George Carlin had a popular routine based upon seven words that you can't say on television. Although cable TV has relaxed the former network rules, several of these words are still not politely uttered in the PSAP even 35 years after the fact. And when they are spoken nowadays, it may not be a laughing matter.

ICE-5: Advocates Collaborate to Enable Better Access to 9-1-1

The 5th Industry Collaboration Event, or "ICE 5," resulted in heightened awareness of the requirements necessary for access to 9-1-1 by all persons in the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) environment. NG9-1-1, which will soon replace today's voice-centric 9-1-1 system, is designed to support text messaging and multimedia communications; these widely-used communications methods are especially critical for improving interactions between those with hearing- and speech-related disabilities and...

Ick! I Hate Evaluations

How annoying can the evaluation process be? Think back to years of getting and giving evaluations. Are your memories fuzzy recollections of frustration, confusion, apathy, joy or resentment? Or do you recall them as an effective method of valued communications between you and an expert on how well you are keeping the promise of your work and adding to the overall agency goals of excellence?

Identifying Value in PSAP Consolidations

One, perhaps indirect way to perceive trends in the public safety industry is to count the frequency of certain types of RFPs that cross consultants' desks. So it is noteworthy to those of us in the consulting business that, although subjects such as NG 9-1-1 might be expected to generate the majority of requests for help, in fact, we find we are receiving even more requests to support either studying the feasibility of PSAP consolidation or for planning and implementing such consolidations.

Information Overload and the 9-1-1 Dispatcher

February, 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of the initiation of 9-1-1 service in the United States. In the four decades since that first call was made in Halleyville, Alabama much has changed.

Integration Does Not Need to be Painful

How Scheduling Software Helps Achieve Higher Level of Efficiency

It's NOT Your Mother's 9-1-1

9-1-1 has come a long way baby. 20 years ago there was no such thing as a Training Manager, simulators, certification, or dispatch academy. What is missing? What is needed? A Police Chief told me about his 'core group' (solid for 10-20 years) and - the revolving door group (hired in the last 3 years). What's up?... If the 10-20 employees thrived, we can assume - back then - that we hired the right people, had great training, negativity was rare, shiftwork was easier, we didn't fear...

King County (WA) Partners With Geocomm For 9-1-1 Dispatch Center Consolidation Feasibility Study

The King County Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) Program Office and the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Consolidation Steering Committee, which is comprised of local PSAP, police, fire, and emergency medical services representatives, have selected GeoComm Public Safety Consulting Services to provide a PSAP/9-1-1 dispatch center consolidation assessment of the King County E9-1-1 system

Leading Public Safety Associations Announce Open Nominations for 9-1-1 Honor Awards

The E9-1-1 Institute, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), Association of Public-Safety Communications-Officials International (APCO), National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA), and 9-1-1 Industry Alliance (9IA) have announced the opening of nominations for the 2011 9-1-1 Honor Awards. The organizations, representing 25,000 emergency communications professionals nationwide, bestow the awards each year to honor heroes and leaders in 9-1-1. The 2011 awards ceremony...

Leading Public Safety Coalition Celebrates National 9-1-1 Education Month

"Today the National 9-1-1 Education Coalition announces a new resource for everyone across the nation," stated Gregory Rohde, Executive Director of the E9-1-1 Institute. "We encourage you to visit www.know 911.org for ideas on what you can do for National 9-1-1 Education Month."

Local 9-1-1 Professionals Meet with Federal Policy Makers to Shape the Future of 9-1-1

Nearly 200 9-1-1 leaders from across the nation are gathering in Washington, DC, this week to discuss emergency communications issues with top policy makers. The annual event, known as 9-1-1 Goes to Washington, brings members of NENA, The 9-1-1 Association, to the nation's capital to educate lawmakers about the various challenges faced by local 9-1-1 call centers, which answer more than 600,000 emergency calls per day.

Managing the Cone of Uncertainty

...I became aware of what the job description should be for everyone in public safety communications: "We manage the cone of uncertainty!" Because, folks, that's what we do. Every call taker and telecommunicator never knows what the next call will be. More than likely it will be something relatively minor. And then again, it can be the lead story on the six o,clock news or CNN. Either way, they must be ready.

Microwave Management

Let me begin this month's column by apologizing to those of you who began reading this under the false assumption that it was a primer on managing extremely high-frequency radios. It is not.

My Server Crashed! Someone Call 9-1-1!

Technologies, applications, and the systems they run on are becoming more complex and more highly integrated, with more sophisticated features than ever before. It's putting a strain on PSAP's ability to keep up and manage these systems. When evaluating new Computer Aided Dispatch systems and related applications, the natural tendency is to focus on the software, the user experience it affords call takers and dispatchers, and how efficient and productive it enables them to be.

National 9-1-1 Association's New President Promises Strong Leadership on Next Generation 9-1-1 Issues

A new NENA Executive Board took office during the Installation Banquet & Gala at the NENA 2012 Conference & Expo earlier this month in Long Beach, CA. Barbara A. Jaeger, ENP was sworn in as President, while Bernard Brown, ENP became 1st Vice President and Christy Williams, ENP assumed the office of 2nd Vice President.

National 9-1-1 Association's New President Promises Strong Leadership on Pressing 9-1-1 Issues

The newly elected leaders of NENA-The 9-1-1 Association (formerly the National Emergency Number Association) are pledging to keep up the organization's momentum and leadership in the coming year.

National 911 Profile Database Open for 2013 Data Collection

The National 911 Program has announced the National 911 Profile Database is open and accepting 9-1-1 system data for 2013. In cooperation with the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA), the Program encourages states to voluntarily share information about a number of data points, including the number of 9-1-1 calls received, 9-1-1 fees and progress toward implementing NG9-1-1.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week April 14-20

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is recognized April 14-20 this year. Celebrate the special people who perform critical work every day at the nation's public safety emergency communications centers.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week Turns Twenty-One!

Here we are in 2012, celebrating what is the official twenty-first birthday of National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week. Although it was conceived in California a decade before and has been known by a number of aliases, about the closest thing we have to a birth certificate is a 1991 Congressional Proclamation - so we'll go with that. As can be imagined, after ten years of labor, this baby was welcomed with open arms by most.

New ELA Program Assists Smaller Public Safety Agencies

Esri has launched a new enterprise licensing program designed to make acquiring Esri technology easy and affordable for small public safety agencies. The Small Public Safety (SPS) Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) gives fire, law enforcement, corrections, probation, and emergency management departments the same benefits that larger organizations have realized from traditional Esri ELA programs. Created for agencies in the United States serving populations of 100,000 or fewer, the SPS ELA...

Next Generation 9-1-1 Institute Issues Call For Nominations for Board of Directors

The NG9-1-1 Institute is seeking nominations for five (5) seats to the NG9-1-1 Institute Board of Directors in the upcoming fall 2012 election. Members of the NG9-1-1 Institute who represent one of the five open positions and are dedicated to the advancement of emergency services and are able to strengthen, assist and expand the NG9-1-1 Institute are encouraged to nominate themselves

Next Generation Quality Assurance - Getting Ready for the Future

Up until now, QA focused on telephony calls as this has been the primary form of 9-1-1 communication between PSAPs and the public. All this though will soon change with NG9-1-1. PSAPs will also be required to handle text, video, images, and potentially other forms and types of data originating from various security sensors.

NIU researchers find link between 9-1-1 dispatchers, PTSD symptoms

A new study by researchers at Northern Illinois University suggests that the on-the-job, indirect exposure to trauma puts dispatchers at risk for developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). "We found that dispatchers report significant emotional distress related to handling duty-related calls, and this type of distress is associated with increased risk for developing PTSD or PTSD symptoms," said NIU Psychology Professor Michelle Lilly, one of the authors of the study...

No Mulligans Here: 9-1-1, the Media, and Public Judgment

9-1-1 calls provide a significant amount of provocative audio in the world of twenty-four hour news. Many times these calls are handled properly; sometimes they are not. Occasionally, the call itself becomes almost as compelling as the original story. Perhaps the most recent example of this involves Amanda Berry; the kidnap victim recently recovered in Cleveland. While the aftermath of the incident may prove to be a boon to the Good Samaritan and McDonalds, it has been less kind to the...

Notes from Navigator - 9-1-1 Lessons from Las Vegas

Maybe you look at Navigator as the place to learn a lot about emergency communication, the ability to pick up free advice from fellow professionals, and - at the conference held this past April in Las Vegas - the chance to walk away a millionaire. The National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) sponsored Navigator is all that and more. The six days traditionally divided between workshops and classroom sessions also leaves attendees with a lot to chew on for discussion when the next...

Our Week

With National Public Safety Telecommunications Week being celebrated each April, it's worth taking a look at the job we've been doing.

Pants on the Ground::The Joys of Managing an Adult Dress Code

Every season of American Idol comes with its own set of surprises, and this year is no exception. "General" Larry Platt of Atlanta added the catchphrase "pants on the ground" to the American lexicon with his homemade ditty to drooping drawers. While his somewhat tongue-in-cheek composition focused on a particular dress style of the young, communications center managers can experience similar displays every day. If you are lucky enough to supervise a uniformed facility, then the remainder of...

Password Please: The Place of Social Media in Hiring Decisions

Recently the Internet has been all a-twitter about numerous reports of employers requesting social media passwords from prospective and current employees... While on the surface this practice seems a shocking violation of personal space and freedoms, there are others who would argue that valuable information concerning hiring decisions can be gained in this manner... Let's take a closer look at the issue; especially as it applies to public safety communications.

Play it Again, Sam

A Manager's Guide to Recorder Procurement

PowerPhone White Paper: The Power of the Positive Approach: Discovering the Potential of Your Team

PowerPhone held a webinar earlier this year on The Power of the Positive Approach: Discovering the Potential of Your Team. The white paper summarizes the webinar and addresses questions raised from your industry peers

Protocols and Policies: The Necessity of Dispatcher Discretion

In early October, David Givot, a practicing attorney and former paramedic published an op-ed piece entitled "Humans vs. Toys: What Happened to Dispatch Discretion?" While investigation related to the story that prompted this article continues, Mr. Givot's missive probably stirred up more discussion than did the catalyst for the conversation... The article - and subsequent online conversations - can lead us down some interesting paths.

PSAP Leadership: Tough Times, Tough Lessons

The city of San Bernardino (CA) filed for bankruptcy in June of 2012, despite the best efforts of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the mid-management's bargaining unit the bankruptcy was given the green light by the federal judge on 8/26/2013. During the time the city was waiting for the bankruptcy to go through, the leaders within the police department were forced to learn many tough lessons...

PSAPs in Europe 2013 Overview Published by EENA

The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) has released the 'Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in Europe' publication, edition 2013. In addition to the 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Norway, Serbia and Turkey, this year's 145-page document provides an overview of the PSAPs structure in Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldova, Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro.

Public Safety And The EMP Threat

For years many have talked about the threat of an electromagnetic pulse, whether natural occurring or as a result of a nuclear weapon, but recent event have increased concerns about that threat. EMP is the acronym for electromagnetic pulse, a burst of energy that travels through the air that is produced by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere or possibly non-nuclear -manmade means that may result in widespread damage to all unshielded semiconductor/electronics, power lines,...

Public Safety Technology - Aging Systems And New Acquisitions: Important Ideas To Consider

As a product lifecycle evolves, the agency will struggle to keep the system operational amid ever increasing annual maintenance costs. An aging system also suffers from "support deterioration" because older systems become more difficult and costly to maintain over time. To extend the lifecycle of a product, even though defects become more frequent and severe as the product ages, vendors will add functional capabilities called "life cycle extenders" ...

Quality Assurance: The Behavior Allowed Becomes the Standard

In the modern workplace employees have a desire to know why they are being required to do things and often resent the "old school" just-do-as-I-say approach to management. Policies and procedures need to be explained to and understood by everyone. Often times, if the reasons are clear and the consequences of their actions, and not for their actions are emphasized and understood the resulting compliance will be greater.

Quality Assurance? Are They Learning or Burning?

Although needed and necessary, Quality Assurance (QA) programs can create chaos in your Comm Center if not presented and managed in a way that acknowledges some realities... But you cannot force people to put their defenses down when they are feeling unsafe. You can work to help them feel safe. Here are five thoughts on a positive pro-active approach to QA programs at 9-1-1.

Quality Improvement through Education and Positive Reinforcement

All the quality assurance data in the world is virtually meaningless if it is not followed up with a strong quality improvement initiative. Gathering the information and generating reports are just part of the process.

Raytheon & Twisted Pair Solutions Unveil State-of-the-art Dispatch Center

Raytheon Company and Twisted Pair Solutions, a Seattle-based provider of mission-critical solutions for secure, real-time communication, has unveiled a next-generation dispatch system deployed for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff. This state-of-the-art dispatch center is one of the first in the nation to be purely IP-based and supports the use of smartphones and tablets for seamless first responder critical communications, anywhere, on any device

Recognition: The Other 51

Another National Telecommunicators' Week has come and gone. Some agencies went all out, while others kept it low-key. Some didn't celebrate at all, which is kind of sad since this is the one week a year we set aside to formally recognize our staffs. But sadder than the lack of celebration during these seven days in April is what occurs during the other 51 weeks of every year.

Redefining the Human Machine Interface

Simultaneous auditory stimuli (e.g., radio and telephone transmissions) is a common occurrence within in the 9-1-1 communication center. Competition for the telecommunicator's attention and comprehension with receipt of two simultaneous verbal transmissions may result in critical information being missed or lost when switching between tasks. To better manage competing auditory activity, the telecommunicator needs a process to receive, analyze, and organize this activity in such a way that...

RedSky Technologies Awarded GSA Schedule 70 Contract for E9-1-1 Software and Cloud Services

RedSky Technologies, Inc., the leading provider of automated E9-1-1 solutions, has announced that it has been awarded an Information Technology Schedule 70 contract by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the procurement arm of the Federal government. The five-year contract allows for Federal customers to efficiently purchase the wide range of RedSky products and services.

Reorienting the Dispatcher's Perspective

The Grapevine Police Department is like one big family. We have our good days and bad days. There are people we like and those we would prefer not to hang out with. There is sibling rivalry and an overwhelming ability to step up to the plate and help out in times of struggle and stress.

Rising Sun: Dimming Hope - What the 9-1-1 Community Can Learn from the Tragedy in Japan

Sitting half a world away and watching the spectacle unfold, those of us in the Western Hemisphere are still afforded a ringside seat as the tragedy in Japan continues to develop. Every day brings with it new information, and seemingly a new crisis. As with any disaster, we in emergency services have a unique view of these events. Who didn't watch the Twin Towers fall and immediately have a sense of the tremendous public safety losses? We didn't need to be informed; the first picture told us...

Seeing the Scene

Video Systems in Public Safety Call Taking and Response

Smarter Analytics, Smarter Emergency Services

Today's public safety agencies are being pushed to run like a business--all while under increasing pressure to take on more responsibility with constrained resources and budgets. Efficiency and speed are key operations objectives in today's public safety answering points (PSAPs).

Staticworx Launches GroundSafe Initiative: Performs ESD Flooring Audits and Certifies Facilities that Comply with Anti-Static Flooring Standards

In an effort to help facilities protect their employees and electronic equipment through flooring that meets electrical safety standards, Staticworx Inc., North America's largest manufacturer of static-control flooring products and services, has launched a GroundSafe Initiative. Professionals from Staticworx will present Certificates of Compliance to companies that demonstrate they are protecting their worksites on three levels: electrical safety, static control performance, and...

Stratus White Paper: Protecting PSAP Applications from Downtime

This White Paper/ebook provides PSAP Managers with the information needed to assure the availability of mission-critical applications and minimize the possibility of disruptions caused by server, operating system, or application failure. It describes the advantages and disadvantages of dedicated servers, cluster technology, virtualization and more in easy- to-understand terms.

Supervision: 15 Evaluation Pain Killers

Bet most of you never had an evaluation you liked. Well, that's not true, I'm sure if it praised you as you deserved you liked it. Let's say you never had an evaluation you could honestly say was deeply meaningful, greatly insightful, and guided you towards greater mastery in your work. Can an evaluation really do all that?

System Security in Garfield County, CO: PSAP Guards Against Unauthorized Access

In the tough economy, both the public and private sectors find themselves having to do more with less, without skimping on security. Fortunately, recent advances in physical security systems are helping to increase their safety and flexibility while decreasing cost. Take, for instance, the Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority which serves the emergency needs of 13 jurisdictions in the Colorado County, by supporting all types of citizen emergency 9-1-1 calls with dispatch...

Telephone Swatting: A New Look at an Old Problem

In early February, national media provided extensive coverage of the so-called "swatting" of 9-1-1 calls. This was triggered, in part, by a Department of Justice press release concerning the guilty plea entered by an eighteen year old Boston man on a string of related charges.

Text-to-9-1-1: Operational Considerations after Vermont Trial

Beginning last April, the state of Vermont conducted a six-month trial to test the potential of 9-1-1 text messaging services... With the trial period having culminated on October 15th, 9-1-1 Magazine recently spoke with David Tucker about his views of the viability of test-to-9-1-1 services following the completion of the state's trial program.

The "Dumbing" of Dispatchers

One of the more common complaints heard around the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) concerns the "dumbing of dispatchers. This gripe typically comes from members with a little bit of time under their belts, and the propensity to wax poetic about the good old days.

The Blame Game

...in a profession that has historically been viewed as a gathering of redheaded stepchildren, taking potshots at the PSAP is nothing new. What is new, however, is the scope of these collective allegations and insinuations. While I'll paraphrase for the sake of brevity, the intent is clear: whatever it is, it's the dispatcher's fault. This thinking dovetails nicely with my favorite analogy: 9-1-1 is like a submarine. Nobody sees us or hears us until something blows up. Then they blame us for...

The Communications Center Of The Future

The era of nanotechnology is here, and with this technology, the world will be able to achieve things beyond the dreams of mortals. Nanotechnology will change our environment in the most fundamental way since the development of tools. The excitement lies in the theoretical possibilities that may one day overturn economies. In the next decade and a half, policing will become more difficult. Policing computer and internet crimes is already challenging; adding wireless technology and...

The Dispatcher's Role in Designing A New Dispatch Facility

Building Your Comm Center, Part 1: ...Dispatchers had an integral part in not only the design of their work environment, but also had the opportunity for input about other areas of the building. Overall interior color schemes, tile and carpet selection, outside roof color and building accent colors, types of lockers and the interior courtyard to name a few...

The Emergency Doctrine: Doing the Right Thing

The Emergency Doctrine was created by human lawmakers who understood that if we are held to our normal standard of care during times when meeting such a standard is impossible, we may not act at all out of fear that we will do the wrong thing.

The Ghosts of Christmases Past

There will always be a select number of calls whose memory will follow each and every one of us throughout our careers and become indelibly imprinted as part of the holiday season... Despite the severity of these events and others like them, the names of those involved have dimmed over the years. While the streets and neighborhoods involved are often associated with these recollections, the most common denominator is the deep seated sorrow that "something like this could happen near the...

The Growing Threat to PSAPs from Telephony Denial of Service (TDoS) Attacks

In the ongoing discussion of how public safety can mitigate TDoS attacks, this article will focus on the hardening of existing 9-1-1 technologies and how Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) will substantially increase the capacity of PSAPs to handle large call volumes, whether resulting from TDoS attacks or from concurrent legitimate calls. And finally, it will address how FirstNet, the new nationwide public safety network, will play a critical role in securing public safety communications and...

The House is Falling: Suffering the Consequences of Neglect

There is not just ONE problem that is easy to solve in the 9-1-1 industry. There are many areas in need of repair, here are some thoughts: It is NO mystery that the pay is at times inadequate. Inadequate to attract good candidates, inadequate to keep good employees, inadequate to enable workers to feel valued or heard. They (whoever they are) claim pay isn't what matters, just like other human services jobs such as counseling, caring for the mentally ill. True maybe - the pay IN ITSELF...

The Next Generation 9-1-1 Administrator: The Need For Position Diversity

The challenges facing today's 9-1-1 administrators, coordinators, directors, and/or managers are forcing them to decide how and when to proceed; and how to fund changes. These issues are forcing these professionals to attempt to wear many cloaks or, at best, to become multi-faceted in their technical, budgetary, and operations and training knowledge and abilities in order to most effectively respond to the changes. Due to these realities they need to be systemically diversified in their...

The Numbers Game: Are Score-Based QA Systems Truly Representative of Dispatcher Performance?

In a profession as critical - and criticized - as our contemporary 9-1-1 occupation, adherence to policies and procedures becomes extremely important. This is especially true for agencies that provide some measure of post-dispatch and/or pre-arrival instructions to callers, directing the caller to actively do something to stabilize a patient or begin to mitigate an emergency before the arrival of the dispatched first responders. Evaluating performance and compliance with protocols and...

The Online Manager: Challenges of the Digital Age

Having written the Communication Manager's column for 9-1-1 Magazine for the past 15 years, I now look forward to making the transition to the web from print. While I have already had a few columns posted here, these were actually leftovers that had been waiting publication. So, from this month forward I'll be able to take advantage of the immediacy of the web and post content that is truly fresh.

The Pachyderm in the PSAP

An unusually poetic commentary of the state-of-the-art of dispatcher staffing and retention. In the spirit of a holiday jingle, PSAP Management columnist Barry Furey examines the issues in rhyming meter and creative wordplay to address a one of the major issues challenging 9-1-1 Centers this year - and likely next.

The Problem with Quality

Quality Improvement (QI) is a relatively new concept in emergency communications. Called by many names, including Total Quality Management or Control, Quality Assurance, and Statistical Quality Control, among others, QI has existed in the modern era since post WWII Japan when quality experts like Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Joseph M. Juran helped to re-industrialize the war-torn country.

What is complacency anyway?

In the 9-1-1-world complacency is a bad, bad word. Self-satisfied, on the other hand, is the actual dictionary definition and not a bad, bad thing - right? However, the dictionary goes further to say complacency is satisfaction to the degree that the complacent person becomes unaware of "potential dangers." The Call Taker may dull their sense of intuition. The Radio Dispatcher may be less inclined to do a status check. A Supervisor may procrastinate on a complaint. A Trainer may give...

What Use Our Work?

As April rolls around again, we spend time educating the public about 9-1-1 and honoring our brightest and best employees. But, it seems to me that one thing we rarely do is sit back and take a long hard look at what it is that we really do, because absent of the speeches, proclamations, and news clips lies this measure. And what we really do is pretty darn good.

What You Should Know About Creating Seamless Regional Public Safety Communications Networks

At a recent symposium on public safety communication hosted by Airbus DS Communications in Tampa, public safety and emergency management officials gathered to learn more about new technologies available to enable them to create interoperable communications networks. Here are some of the symposium’s key takeaways and what 9-1-1 managers need to know about implementing improved communication systems:

Where's Watson When We Really Need Him?

Obviously, back in the pioneering days of telephony, technology was a lot simpler than it is today. Complexity grows over time. Man had walked in space before we handled our first true 9-1-1 call, and Automatic Number Identification (ANI) and Automatic Location Identification (ALI) came along after that. One can argue that 9-1-1 never got any better since then.

Zetron's New Program Helps Public Safety Agencies Finance Equipment

Zetron, a leading provider of mission-critical communications solutions worldwide, announced that it is partnering with Government Capital Corporation, a leader in public finance, to offer tax-exempt financing to help public safety agencies - such as 9-1-1 centers, fire departments, and city/county governments - purchase new equipment.

 
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