1. #1
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    Default Communication Problems?

    What's the biggest problem with communication in your department? Interoperability? Dead spots? Not enough channels? Not enough planning/training? I'd be interested to know.

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    Dispatcher Training

    Dead spots (lack of repeaters in appropriate locations)


    Fire & EMS dispatch operated and controlled by Law Enforcement

    (I will expand on that via email if you like)
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    Fire & EMS dispatch operated and controlled by Law Enforcement
    ditto...........also lack of going to another channel deoending in whatever incident you are on ...........no repeaters also ...all simplex.
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    The lack of Radio Interoperability and people just not listening.

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    Yes, to ALL posted above...

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    Default Re: Communication Problems?

    Originally posted by BarryTFurey
    What's the biggest problem with communication in your department?
    Civilian dispatchers who are literally paid less than the guy who empties their waste baskets. (And the politicians who thought that changing to civilian dispatchers "to save money" was a good idea.)
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Default Where to start..

    I have been our departments communication officer/lasion to the countywide 911 system for 3 years and there are several thing that stand out has problems.

    1. A lack of proper training ( the only training recieved is OJT, which if trained correctly is an ok system..but bad habits and a disreguard for sog's can muck up the entire communication office)

    2. Creative Dispatch 101 ...this happens when there is no supervision in the room.

    3. A lack of funding to upgrade and modernize ( this is a problem for the 911 center has well as the local responders)

    4. Centers shouldn't be controled by law enforcement ( Centers should be independently controlled by county goverment with all Fire,Police and EMS having an equal say in policys and procedures)

    5. Interoperability/Lack of channels/Repeaters ( see # 3)

    6. Professionalize ( give them the training and the wages that will make them feel more professional)
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    Ltmdepas3280 has got it down pretty good.

    Being a civilian has nothing to do with any of it. Firefighters should be fighting fires just like the police should be policing. Leave the comm center to the Telecommunicators. These 3 professions are too complex for any one person to be doing both. That would explain why, when recently, my officers have been coming into our new facility their eyes glaze over when they see our 5 computer monitors with CAD, phones, radio, GPS mapping/AVL, etc... and they admit to not wanting to and not being able to do my job. If they would like to quit their job and think they can make it through our 14+ weeks of training, that's up to them.


    But back to what Lt said,

    My agency is run by a Director (a civilian, as if that matters). But the Board is made up of him, a police and fire chief from all of the cities we handle and also an Alderman from each of the cities.

    Our Director has been involved with 911 and other emergency radio communications since 1976. Putting some type of law enforcement official or fire offical in charge of a modern 911 center is probably one of the worst things you can do as they have grown up learning about their own profession, not the world of communications and 911 which is an entity in and of itself.

    Anyway, while the Director makes the day to day decisions, budgets have to be approved by the board as does any other major decision. Policies are discussed by and voted on by all board members and approved as needed.

    This seems to be the best way to do things as the effects it may have in any aspect to the public safety community can be discussed amongst these individuals before it is enacted.

    Proper training is indeed a problem. That comes from one of two places:

    1. A person in charge of communications that shouldn't be and has no idea what public safety communications should be like.

    2. Improper funding/allocation to the comm center for those training classes and not hiring a full time Training Coordinator.

    Having proper training would also alleviate problems with not following established SOP's.

    Lack of repeaters - see lack of proper funding.

    Professionalize - Get people's thought processes out of the 60's thinking that officers should be working dispatch. That way of thinking is archaic and simply doesn't work anymore and never will. Working in the comm center isn't talking to the caller for 5 seconds and talking on a CB radio with a boom mic anymore. It's learning SOP's for multiple towns, operating state and federal computer systems, and learning to work multi-million dollar computer based CAD, phone and radio systems while dealing with callers in a professional manner using all of the proper training you've received from the multitude of classes you've attended assuming you work for a good agency. (Examples of classes I've attended that I need for my profession: School violence situations, HazMat situations, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Severe weather, Suicide prevention, Domestic violence, Hostage negotiation, Crisis communications and several more I've forgotten.)

    Show respect to the "civilians" that deal with cranky burned out field units that show their lifelines no respect and don't understand what a hard and stressful profession they work in.

    And a little extra money never hurt anyone.

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    Originally posted by MrJim911
    Show respect to the "civilians" that deal with cranky burned out field units that show their lifelines no respect and don't understand what a hard and stressful profession they work in.
    With respect, I'll start having respect for civilian dispatchers (as a group) when they (as a group) perform knowledgably and professionally. That's not to say that there are no good civilian dispatchers, just that they aren't the norm in my experience.

    The problem is when politians decide to "save money" by replacing dispatch qualified uniformed personnell with civilians. That mind set never results in quality dispatching. You get what you pay for. Starting out with the premise that you're going to pay your civilian dispatchers substantially less than the professional dispatchers you already have can only result in poor dispatching.

    In our case, I'd put the worst firefighter dispatcher we had up against the best civilian dispatcher we have now any day of the week.

    Whereas we used to have knowledgable call takers capable of asking the right questions and making informed dispatch choices, we now have little better than trained monkeys who can only be trusted to distinguish between the broadest categories of response. And even then it generally takes much longer from call to dispatch than it ever did before.

    Whereas our FD dispatchers used to be an integral part of our response and logistical support, our current civilian dispatchers are only barely able to tone out alarms and log apparatus on and off the air. Lifelines? I'd rather rely on a lucky rabbit's foot than gamble on one of our dispatchers having a clue.

    But what can we expect from somebody being paid less than the janitor?
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Im sorry for you and your agency. We have nothing like that around here.

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    Most all agencies (fire, ems and law) in our state use civillian dispatchers and while most do an average job there are those that should look elsewhere for employment. There are also those who do an exceptional job day in and day out. It is a training issue and a pay issue.

    A single biggest issues (other than training) is comm centers controlled by Law Enforcement agencies. A police officer checking out the donut shop will get answered before a fire unit requesting assistance.

    The next problem is sending a law enforcement officer to "check" out a fire before dispatching the FD. I asked them if they would send us (FD) out to check on drunk drivers before sending a cop..... of course they thought that was stupid...

    Sometimes, by nature, dispatchers want to make decisions, but there are situation where time does not allow the thinking process.. just dispatch the units. Follow the SOP/Policy/SOG...whatever you call it.

    New dispatchers being tainted by the "Old Salts" Our new dispatchers receive good training in their state required basic class, but once on the job, sitting with a seasoned dispatcher doing OJT... they often get told "I know they taught you that at the academy, but we dont do it that way here" or "Thats not important"
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
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    Default To DeputyMarshal:

    Which department are you with because it must be WAY over staffed.

    The State Police here in CT are talking about pulling thier dispatchers from the field (about 80) and replacing them with Troopers. The agency says they are already about 47 short. Now they want to pull another 72 -/+ to work the desk. Thats about 120 troopers off the road to answer phones.

    As a tax payer in this state I would be outraged if this happened. I pay for these guys to go to the academy and protect our citizens traveling on the roads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ziplock
    Which department are you with because it must be WAY over staffed.
    How do you figure that? (I don't think I even mention staffing levels... )

    Overstaffed? I think not. Six on-duty firefighters and on-call roulette for response.

    Combined dispatch (now out of the PD) has two or occasionally three civilian dispatchers.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    -Dead spots the repeaters don't cover well.
    -Dispatchers who work for the Sheriff's Office...FD is the "red headed stepchild" and our issues and attempts to establish standardized dispatch procedures take a back seat to the S.O.'s needs. Also, when dispatchers screw up or just need some "redirection", there's no accountability to the fire departments....if the Sheriff is happy with them, everything's great...FD has no authority over them.
    -Firefighters who DON'T HAVE THEIR RADIOS WITH THEM! I preach this all the time but still I arrive on a call and can't talk to the interior team because THEY DIDN'T BRING A RADIO IN WITH THEM! ( I actually had a new officer a while back who, when asked why he didn't have his radio with him inside the structure, replied that he didn't think they were supposed to bring them inside a fire....they're expensive, y'know.... )
    -Sending a deputy to "investigate" reports of smoke, motor vehicle accidents, etc. ( I know, sometimes it's just a fender-bender that needs a traffic report, but last week we responded to an overturned vehicle where they sent a deputy first...he called for us because the car was smoking....I mean, overturned vehicle? Good potential for injuries, don't ya think? )
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
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    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    bump....lets hear some more issues
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
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    Default internal and external

    Internally, we have a supervisor that is spineless in standing up for the rights of dispatchers. Hired for her inability to say “no” and to think on her own. Our supervisor allows other departments to continually dump their work on us. We get stacks of files meaning hours are spent doing clerical work for the office secretaries. We must leave our post to go to the jail for matron duties, leaving our dispatch center short handed at best. Some times while we have to perform the matron duties we leave an untrained jailer at the post alone. Poor leadership, insecurity of the supervisor and major lack management skills, the supervisor resorts micro-management for she fears anyone that might have an idea or suggestion for improvement due to her personal lack of dispatching ability. Our supervisor is more worried about the popularity contest then the effeteness of the dispatch center.

    Other internal problems would include the lack of any real training. The supervisor will lie on the EMD recertification hours because she does not have the ability to fight for the training hours needed to maintain our training level. Poor morale among the dispatcher due to favoritism, unfair scheduling, unfair handling of overtime and holiday pay between dispatchers. Unfair treatment of dispatchers in matters of disciple, correction of work completed, and quality of work.

    Externally, the lack and disregard of those responding to proper radio technique: ex are mumbling over the radio, long winded statement, open mic which hampers the ability of those needing to communicate information to dispatch, the inability of responders to know the area they are responding with in and to scared to read a map, responders calling on a landline to as for directions while dispatchers are trying to give prearrival instructions, the lack of department head and commissioner that have no understanding of the job we do.

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    I have worked with some very good comm centers and currently, I have to deal with a very bad one. Why?
    1. Inability to accept change. We have always done it this way, why change?
    2. Law Enforcement controlled. No disrespect to the law enforcement side, but when I roll out of the house at two in the morning to a working fire, I need that dispatcher on the ball monitoring my traffic. Turning down the volume on the cad is not acceptable.
    3. My department has turned over reams of documented cases indicating room for improvement and to date, no change. APCO standards were even cited and the answer we were given? Well, we are short staffed. I'm sorry,but a 4 minute lag time from call recieved until time of dispatch for a full code is problem. This occurs on a regular basis in my response area.

    I agree with what some have stated, make the comm center independent and work with the center to develop our "dream" comm center. This can be accomplished without spending millions to do it. I also agree that the staff working the comm centers should be paid accordingly. I feel that this is one of the root causes of the problem. Just my opinion and I appreciate the patience for my rant!

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    Default Lack of Training

    Our problem is the lac of training. Each department (11) of them having different procedures, and a CAD system that does not work the way it was supposed to.

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    All of the Above

    well, all but the firefighter dispatcher better than the civilian dispatcher. maybe in your case, but that's probably due to training issues more than being a firefighter or a civilian.

    just my .01 cent......i'm a dispatcher, i can't afford .02 cents
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    The problem with the firefighter dispatcher is they generally are doing their time and then they want out of there. So it is a revolving door and you can get some real crappy dispatchers there for a while. There are also some that are really sharp and they make the very best dispatchers IMO but because of their sharpness often get promoted out quickly...

    Civilian dispatchers take longer to train of course and may never fully grasp some things we are doing but I think it is at least a way to stop the revolving door so long as they are trained by people who know what they are doing and they are properly compensated for their important job....

    Birken

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    Quote Originally Posted by BarryTFurey
    What's the biggest problem with communication in your department? Interoperability? Dead spots? Not enough channels? Not enough planning/training? I'd be interested to know.
    Yes. Plus, outdated and inadequate SOPs, just for good measure.

    However, the county controls the communications system and procedures, so we can't fix most of these things on our own.

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    in a different thread i said our dispatch center has improved a bunch and it is true.

    sworn or non-sworn personnal i do not believe makes much of a difference but training dose.

    one of the biggest problems we have with our dispatch center is that it is run by the pd

    a couple of years ago a new dispatch center location and equipment was bought for the chief of police, every body here thought we were really getting something seeing how that all city and county agencies are dispatched from the same location. not

    the pd chief has a bad attitude toward anything not police related.

    here are two prime examples:

    the local ema director obtained a tailer and it was converted into a mobile command/communications center.
    now acroding to the state statues the ema director is number three in the chain of command county judge exective,
    mayor,
    ema director,
    agency heads 4th on down the line.

    the police chief refused to give the ema director permission to program and use his agnecies radio frequencies in the mobile command post.

    can you say ego trip?

    remember this is a brand new comm center they bought for his highness.

    it seems that they did not spec. out the equipment needs properly when they were putting this thing together and they did not purchase enough recording modules for tapeing the radio traffic. and guess who was left out? the county fire depts.
    and they also seem to forgot to tell us this little oversight. we found out about it about 2 years later when one of the county depts. needed a copy of the tape covering one of their runs.

    red headed step child in a big way

    but wait a minute this dispatch center was built for the chief of police not for any one else in the county even if the city and county both pay for the thing
    .
    and we will tell you about the house fire after we put on the cad that the north area pd officer is signing out for a meal break.

    we have never heard of this happening but we have no proof that it did not.

    the new supervisior has a long row to hoe and she will need all the help she can get. she has one thing going for her that is unheard of a lot at the police staion when it comes to communication problems she listens, an unheard of concept on the mount.

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    Angry Biggest Problem??

    Hmm, that could be many. Ok where to start.
    1. CELL PHONES - In Massachusetts, Cell phones are answered at 1 of 3 locations. Middleboro, Framingham and Northampton State Police Dispatch centers. Problem: technology coupled with implementing inadequate equipment and inadaquate planning just is a trainwreck. I'll get specific if anybody cares.

    2. VERIZON!!! Unfortunately, a lot of local departments get dispatched through there on radio system. Phone lines are used to connect our center to there system to tone out -Yes, people in the boondocks still use toning. MDT, what the hell is that?? LOL -Anyway, 8 out of 10 problems are caused by phone lines.

    3. Nozzlehead and "The Law" decide their portables are "failsafe equipment" and that they can use them anywhere. Guess what, 5watts or less isn't going to cut it....Can u say REPEATER MAYBE!!

    4. Outdated equipment - CAD and Radio systems. In My centers case, its the fault of the State Police MIS department or the Heads saying we don't need it. Yeah OK. Send a firefighter in without a hose or a cop without Pepperspray or gun...Don't really need it , right?

    5. STATE TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD - No explanation needed. They are in there own world... Know what, I should have listed them as #1

    6. Supervisors not listening to there people.

    Guess that is enough for now. Cell phones are out of control.

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    Oh yes, I forgot to mention something above. Civilian, or Uniformed - If you are properly trained, makes no difference. Obviously someone is upset they had to get off there but and go back into the field. Just for the record, so no one is offended - I am a FF/EMT on a Volly Dept. I am a Police Officer, Part time (feels like full time) and Full time dispatcher working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Last but not least I am not New, I remember the old alarms coming in a Punch tape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfd707
    Hmm, that could be many. Ok where to start.

    2. VERIZON!!! Unfortunately, a lot of local departments get dispatched through there on radio system. Phone lines are used to connect our center to there system to tone out -Yes, people in the boondocks still use toning. MDT, what the hell is that?? LOL -Anyway, 8 out of 10 problems are caused by phone lines.
    You are using verizon telephone lines to connect your remotely located towers to dispatch. This is done everywhere and it's the only way if you don't have microwave or other RF Links. This is perfectly normal. Unfortunately, phone lines are often the root of a problem. Trust me, SBC is no better.

    You think tone paging is obsolete and has been replaced by MDT's? Dude, your way out there on that one. Totally off the wall.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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