BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (4/27/13) – Eleven Kentucky State Police telecommunicators from throughout the commonwealth were recognized today at graduation ceremonies for the second class of the agency’s telecommunications academy.
“Throughout the state, KSP telecommunicators are the ‘heroes behind the headsets’ who provide a lifeline to both citizens in need and officers in the field,” says KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer. “They serve as an unseen, but vital link in keeping law enforcement officers and the public safe at all times of the day or night. They work odd hours, make personal sacrifices, handle a huge amount of stress and are ready and willing to help at a moment’s notice.”
Representing the KSP Headquarters Communications Center and six agency posts, the group began its studies on March 11 at KSP headquarters in Frankfort. The course provided 194 hours of instruction during a five-week period. The curriculum included subjects such as legal liability and limits of telecommunicator authority, the telecommunicator’s role in public safety, interpersonal communications, customer service, interaction with the news media, stress, ethics and confidentiality, responder safety, basic fire dispatch, state emergency operations plans and criminal justice information systems, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, first aid training, emergency medical dispatch and special needs callers.
The final week of the academy included training on computer-aided dispatch and other databases. To complete the course, the telecommunicators were required to successfully process scripted calls for service and demonstrate proficiency in obtaining pertinent information, dispatching responders, providing emergency medical dispatch if needed and correctly documenting information from the call for service.
The graduates of the second KSP Telecommunications Academy included:
Leeanna McNece, of Lexington, KSP Headquarters Communications Center
Zackary Dunigan, of Mayfield, KSP Post 1-Mayfield
Cheryl Nolan, of Bowling Green, KSP Post 3-Bowling Green
Deana Janette Owens, of Glasgow, KSP Post 3-Bowling Green
Jakop Smith, of Belton, KSP Post 3-Bowling Green
Benita Blanton, of Morehead, KSP Post 8-Morehead
Megan Childress, of Elkhorn City, KSP Post 9-Pikeville
Michael Coleman, of Pikeville, KSP Post 9-Pikeville
Derek McGarey, of Eastern, KSP Post 9-Pikeville
Justin Farley, of Harlan, KSP Post 10-Harlan
April Taylor, of Sebree, Post 16-Henderson
According to Charlotte Tanner, training coordinator for Kentucky State Police telecommunicators, working in today’s emergency services communications center requires a number of qualities and characteristics that are absolutely imperative.
“One, a person must be able to work under very stressful, challenging conditions. They have to be able to deal with a roller coaster ride of very serious calls coming in and then routine calls and back to very serious calls with very little notice.”
They must also be very flexible with their time, she says. “Our personnel have to staff the communications center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It requires them to be away from their families a lot. It requires them to give up some social gatherings they probably would like to be attending. They must be dependable, reliable and be where we need them when we need them. We have to be able to count on them.”
“They must have empathy,” she continues. “They need to have empathy for what people are experiencing when they call in. We deal a lot with children and our personnel need to be able to adjust how they handle a call based upon the person they are talking to.”
Technology plays a big role, she explains. “The technology we use in our communications center is something that is changing every day. Our people have to be able to stay current. They must be able to learn and adapt as the job dictates.”
Her advice to those who may be considering the field as a career? “You need to think very long and hard about whether you are willing to make the sacrifices you have to make. You have to spend time away from your family. You have to work weekends and holidays. With all the continuing training required, there is a big investment of time and you need to be sure you can make the commitment.”
“To be honest, it’s not a job for everyone,” concludes Tanner. “It is stressful and challenging and some people simple can’t deal with the types of calls and the types of deadly incidents that we have to handle.”
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