Public Safety Communications Centers have long had a process for training new personnel. After all of the assessments are complete and they are placed in a program, it’s either class room time for a few weeks to cover the basics of 9-1-1 communications, policy and procedures, and an orientation to the position, or the personnel are placed with a training officer to do the same individually incorporating the hands on portion. This has worked, for the most part, but with tightening budgets and the need to place personnel under the headset as soon as possible, not all new hires learn at the same rate, so is this working effectively?
With technology improving almost daily, there are options for allowing the learner to set their own pace and be prepared to take on the critical role in your organization. Below, we look at a few options for streamlining the process and meeting your goals at the same time.
Policy and procedure Manuals
It is crucial to the success of any new hire to be adequately trained on the policies and procedures of your organization, but does it have to be completed in a classroom or take away from the hands on training? With available tools such as wiki’s, publisher programs, and screen share software, you can take the training out of the class room and onto the desk top. A self paced computer based training mimics online learning through educational institutions. With a little planning and creativity, you can turn your policy manuals into a comprehensive and dynamic training tool that is accessed on your computer desk tops or sectioned drives remaining behind your agencies firewall. A combination of modules that present the information in an easy to follow manner, would allow your trainers to spend more time concentrating on the hands on portion of training and developing products for in service requirements.
Software such as camtasia studio (http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html $299.99) allows you to record the screen you are using on your desktop in the form of a presentation to train personnel on how to use certain software such as computer aided dispatch, telephony, or resource tools. (Check with your software provider for licensing agreements about screen capture and recording for training, or write these into your request for proposal on your next purchase.) With no significant software or policy changes, you can use these indefinitely and save much-needed time and money allowing the learner to move at their own pace.
Developing an intranet resource to act as a “classroom” also is an effective means of delivering content to new hires. Links to any file on your agencies protected drives, or links out of your firewall if you allow internet access, can be provided to reinforce training, and allow you to create assessments that are geared toward your objectives.
On the subject of assessment, there are several quiz maker or test maker softwares available for free or for a nominal amount online, providing with easy access to tests and some can even score based on your setting and notify the trainer when the learner has completed the assessment.
In Service Training
Technology can also be used to provide your agency with a great in service program. Certifications for Emergency Medical, Fire, or Police Dispatch (depending on your certification authority) require continuing dispatch education to maintain certification. Building a revolving training program that reinforces policy and procedure while continuing to build much-needed skills, or exercise unused skills, is an important part of maintaining your agencies liability shield and even meet local, state, and federal requirements. Using the same tools listed for new hires, you can create a program that is specific to your needs and it is flexible, allowing you to update and change as needed.
Organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, offer training online that is designed to enhance your training program. FEMA offers independent study programs on many topics, and they are free to anyone who wants to learn. APCO offers courses on topics related to public safety, and while there is a charge, the courses are professional and well planned. APCO also has started a subscription based training program, offering monthly topics to help your agency meet CDE requirements.
While you may not need to replace all of the spokes, reinventing or redesigning the wheel for your organization could help save money, improve comprehension, and keep your agency focused on saving lives and protecting the property of the community that you serve.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog and any opinions, observations, or ideas are mine and not associated in any way with my employer, The Reedy Creek Improvement District.