Most employees of the Rochester-Monroe County Emergency Communications Department begin their careers as either Telecommunicator (TCC) or Public Safety Dispatcher (PSD) trainees.
The TCC trainees begin by attending an Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) approved 30 day course intended to immerse the student in the 911 center and its policies. It also familiarizes them with the basic functions of the job. They are given a basic outline of what is expected of them by the City and taught basic phone answering skills, interview techniques and general customer service. They are also instructed in Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), the system that aids the TCC and Dispatchers in entering and prioritizing calls for Police, Fire, and EMS dispatch.
The classroom starts out by the trainees meeting each other and getting acquainted with the building and their new surroundings. As the first week progresses they are familiarized with the equipment and start to learn the rules and regulations. We follow the APCO course outline. We augment and enhance the course with our style and how we do things at the ECD. During the second and third weeks the students are familiarizing themselves with the policies and procedures of the ECD through our intensive training program that will earn them college credit at Monroe Community College.
This, combined with role playing and watching a seasoned veteran operate makes for an exciting training period. During the last week, time is spent with the other students simulating and entering events into a test system so they can get the feel of what it's like to do the job. They also listen to old calls and enter information from those to further their learning experience. After this they are ready to go and meet with their first round trainer to get on-the-job experience.
After the thirty day classroom training the operators are assigned to a trainer. The trainer is an experienced ECD employee; one who understands the policies and procedures of the department plus is familiar and comfortable with the intricacies of the job. New trainees will stay with the trainer for approximately 30 days then rotate between 2 more trainers for a total of 60 more days. Depending on how the trainee is doing they may be certified to work by themselves after a second round or if there is a need for further training they may go into a fourth round.
A Public Safety Dispatcher I receives the same training as a TCC with the exception of only going on for one round of phone training. Following this first acquaintance with the 911 phone system the PSD trainee goes back into class for another month to learn the skills needed to work either the police, fire or EMS frequencies. The classroom training for a PSD is very intense. In class the trainee learns radio procedure (the rules and regulations set up by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that we must observe at all times), police, fire or EMS procedures, all the applicable policies and procedures for the eleven police agencies that we serve. They also learn about the networks that link all the agencies in the county, state and country together and how to use them to assist a police officer when needed. After the month of class training, the PSD is assigned to a trainer, following the same pattern as the TCC: 1 month per trainer, usually a total of 3 months in training on the operations floor
The Public Safety Dispatcher II is a multiple discipline dispatcher. While in the classroom the PSD II brings their knowledge of either police or fire/EMS procedures and supplement that with cross training on the discipline they need to perform any operational duties while working at 911. For example, if a PSD I (Police) successfully completes the promotional PSD II exam, then the training will encompass all fire/EMS details or vice versa. PSD II (Fire/EMS) trainees expand their knowledge of FCC rules about radio transmission and CAD skills that are important to their new job duties.