Dispatch Education Programs
In order to prepare our personnel to handle the many calls for emergency assistance the Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications has created a Training Division to meet the ever-increasing need of adequate training. Training Division staff consists of qualified instructors and communications training officers (CTOs) who are certified to local state and national standards for public safety communications. The Training Division is a service and support entity providing for the training needs of this Department and also provides specific topic-related training services for system users and the citizens of Bucks County through various educational programs. The Department of Emergency Communications is committed to high standards of training to assist in meeting the Department's goals and compliance with local, Commonwealth and national standards.
Initial Dispatcher Trainee Training
Newly hired Dispatcher Trainees are introduced to the Bucks County Emergency Communications system and facilities and learn through an intensified basic training program. The 450-hour program is divided into several phases to provide the Dispatcher Trainee with the maximum exposure to the required training materials and modules. Each phase is designed to be progressive adding new information and techniques as the training progresses.
The classroom phase is comprised of learning modules covering public safety communications orientation, CPR, basic emergency medical dispatch, Bucks County Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD). Classroom training for newly hired dispatcher trainees system and Radio System technology knowledge and skills, basic stress management and wellness overview. This list is not all-inclusive. Various written exams are conducted throughout the training and must be successfully completed for the Dispatcher Trainee to continue in the training.
Also included in the classroom phase is guided emergency call taking and radio dispatch training simulations, where trainees receive hands-on learning to prepare them on how to react to a variety of incoming and dispatched emergency and non-emergency call scenarios. This is all accomplished prior to answering actual emergency or non-emergency calls or dispatching actual emergency and non-emergency calls. Scenarios are developed to provide a close to reality feeling while handling the simulated calls. Scenarios are also designed in an instructional fashion from basic to the more complex calls. Practical exams assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the Dispatcher Trainee's ability to apply the knowledge, skills and abilities provided and developed during the basic classroom training.
On the Job Training (OJT) Phase
The OJT phase is comprised of learning involving the handling of actual calls. Dispatcher Training, on the job, working side by side a trainer (receiving and dispatching of calls). During this phase Dispatcher Trainees are guided through calls with the close monitoring of their assigned CTO, which may be either a supervisor or experienced dispatcher. During these phases the Dispatcher Trainee will work at the different 911 Call Taker and Radio Dispatch positions in the communications center to maximize their exposure to emergency and non-emergency calls and radio traffic as well as familiarize themselves with the geography and population of Bucks County.
During these phases of training, Dispatcher Trainees are trained as 911 Call Takers (Emergency Medical Dispatchers) who can handle incoming calls for EMS, Fire and Police situations as well as Police Radio Dispatchers who are able to communicate with responding police units on an assigned radio zone. EMS and Fire communications training is offered later once more experience is gained.
General Basic Training Progression
- Phase 1 (Classroom)
Call Taker and Basic Police Radio Dispatch training which includes simulations and all Commonwealth mandated certifications and initial training. This phase is scheduled to take 240 hours over 8 weeks.
- Phase 2 (OJT)
On-Console Police Radio Dispatch training, this includes the combining of Call Taking and Radio Dispatch multitasking in the later stages. Phase will take 240 hours spanning 8 weeks.
- Phase 3 (Probationary Period)
During this phase the Dispatcher I works independently under supervision and is evaluated monthly on their performance, outside of any daily supervisory audits that may occur. During these sessions appropriate encouragement, correction and remedial training takes place to assist probationary dispatchers in maintaining and/or reaching higher levels of efficiency and confidence. Probation lasts for a 6 month period following successful release from Phases 1 and 2.
Continuing Dispatch Education Programs
Bucks County Emergency Dispatchers are also exposed to training to assist them in maintaining their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Many opportunities are provided to bring up to date issues and techniques to our dispatchers. Reviews of previously covered materials as well as introducing new information are covered in our continuing education programs. There are both mandatory and optional training offerings for dispatch personnel. Our mandatory continuing dispatch education programs exceed the minimum hours required under Commonwealth law and our optional training offerings are attended often by our personnel thereby indicating the commitment of our personnel to do their best for the residents of Bucks County.
Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications strives to meet and/or exceed Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regulations regarding emergency communications training (4PA Chapter 120b). We strongly believe that investing in training is investing in our dispatchers. The end result benefits the citizens and emergency responders of Bucks County.
Public Education Program
We provide access for groups to tour our emergency communications center facility. The presentation we provide is great for community groups, local business or chambers of commerce, church, youth, school, scouting, seniors or veteran groups, volunteer EMS, fire or police explorer groups, etc. Visit the Tours page if you are interested in having your group visit.