Dispatchers must also be involved in the aftermath of most incidents. Dispatchers and call takers often lack a sense of closure. They may spend critical minutes on the phone with a hysterical domestic violence victim or on the radio with an officer screaming for back up, but they may never learn the entire outcome of the situation. Supervisors need to take the lead in providing a brief synopsis to the communications personnel involved in any “hot” situation. If the incident is a critical one, such as an injured officer, a child homicide, an officer-involved shooting, we must make sure that dispatcher are brought into the de-briefings that follow. Dispatch training must include “emotional survival” as well as officer safety.
Training Beyond the Classroom:
Scenario-based training is essential to modern law enforcement. In this age of active shooters, officer ambushes and more, the more realistic our training is the better prepared we will be, and this includes our dispatch personnel. During scenario training, don’t have another officer “play” a dispatcher on a portable radio. Clear a channel and use real dispatchers. Even during firearms training, whether on the range or on a simulator, use dispatchers to add a realistic element to the training. This will help them understand what officers are experiencing during a gunfight or other critical situation.
Officers and dispatchers aren’t really that far apart in their goals, their mission or their mindset, they just need a little help in breaking down those organizational silos that sometimes separate them. Using the grassroots “Not Today!” concept can help bring everyone together. If every day, regardless of assignment, we teach our personnel to say “Not Today, Not on My Shift, Not on My Watch, Not on This Call. I Will Not Allow Routine to De-Train Me, I Will Not Be Caught Unaware.” We all need to be part of a culture of safety, not just survival, and that includes those warriors in the communications center.
Training for Dispatchers: www.jdbucksavage.com