Training

The St. Charles County Department of Emergency Communications receives emergency (911) and non-emergency telephone calls for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service for all of St. Charles County. We dispatch these calls to the appropriate law enforcement, fire districts / departments and/or the St. Charles County Ambulance District.

Types of Training
Extensive training of Emergency Dispatchers is required to efficiently process these calls. Each new hire first completes an intensive 7-week in-house classroom orientation which introduces the basics of the computer-aided dispatch system, call-taking techniques, Emergency Medical Dispatch and Emergency Fire Dispatch procedures, and geography. During this classroom training, each trainee is taught the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) 40-hour Emergency Telecommunicator training course as well as the APCO 32-hour Fire Telecommunicator course. Also during this time, each trainee is certified in healthcare provider Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). 

Communication Center Training
Upon completion of the classroom phase, trainees are assigned to a Communications Training Officer (CTO) for individual on-the-job training at the call taker position. After a minimum of 17 shifts (approximately 5 weeks) at call-take, the trainee returns to the classroom for another week of instruction and scenarios regarding the dispatch and operations radio positions. The trainee then returns to the Communications Center for a minimum of 10 more weeks of on the job training at the radio positions. 

During the time in the Communication Center, the performance of the trainee is evaluated each shift on written daily observation reports, completed by the CTO. At the end of training on each position, the trainee is required (through observation, testing and scenarios) to demonstrate that they are able to work that position independently. In order to expose trainees to a wide variety of situations, they may rotate through different shifts and work hours during their training. It requires between 6 - 9 months to complete the training at all 3 positions. Only after all of this training is a trainee considered an effective Emergency Dispatcher, ready to fully serve the citizens of St. Charles County. 

Continuing Training
The training certainly does not stop for our Emergency Dispatchers once they are "signed off"! Each dispatcher must complete a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education each year in order to remain certified to handle calls. St. Charles County Emergency Communications dispatchers well exceed that total, typically receiving at least 40 hours of ongoing training per year. That training includes information on the latest technology improvements, review of protocols through simulation training and testing, geography and mapping modifications that may occur on our ever-changing county road system and any changes in standard operating procedures that may occur. 

High Quality Service
Initial and ongoing training is a vital component of the job of Emergency Dispatcher, but it is only the tip of the iceberg! An equally vital component of the job is that of quality assurance. St. Charles County Emergency Communications believes that ongoing review and feedback of calls for service is an important way to ensure each employee knows what is expected and, in fact, performs their job as expected every day.

Through listening to random calls and grading performance, we are able to show that our Emergency Dispatchers are consistently performing at a very high level. Utilizing the standards set by the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) and assisted by the AQUA computer system from Priority Dispatch, our Quality Assurance Officer listens to a percentage of the total calls received each week and grades the Emergency Dispatcher on their performance.

This program has been in place since the spring of 2008 and our dispatchers well exceed the standards set by NAED. In fact, more than one month has found a shift that had 100% compliance with the standards! We are very proud of the work that our Emergency Dispatchers are doing and the statistics prove that every month!