Training Program – Initial Training
A new employee’s first day of employment with us begins at San Juan County HR for an initial orientation, which includes getting them set up with payroll, health insurance, and things of that nature. They also attend a workplace harassment class. They then break for lunch. After lunch they report to the Communications Authority for in-house orientation.
Their second day takes place in the Learning Center with the Director for a full day of personal accountability training. The foundation of this training revolves around materials developed by John Miller called QBQ (Questions Behind the Question). This training is very effective for getting new employees in the mindset of being effective through personal accountability. It’s also a great opportunity for new employees to get to know the Director and learn our culture and what is expected of them.
They then begin their initial academy. In this academy (conducted here at the Communications Authority) they learn how to manage 911 calls (call interrogation, policy/procedure, phone operations, CAD entry, Type Codes, communications skills, et.). This is accomplished through a combination of classromm activities and real world “in the hotseat” experience on the dispatch floor. They are taught a single specific skill, such as what series of questions must be asked, and how we ask them. They learn this in the classroom using “See, Hear, Do” techniques, then go onto the dispatch floor with a trainer and perform just that skill live with 911 calls. They then return to the classroom and learn the next skill. This process is followed for each individual skillset.
After five weeks, their training is moved out to the dispatch floor, where they work to polish and refine their basic skills under the watchful eye of a CTO (Communications Training Officer). During this entire process, they are administered a written skills test at the end of each week and are expected to score at least 80% in order to continue with their training. They also recive a daily written evaluation (Daily Observation Report) from their CTO once they are on the floor.
During the next five weeks, the trainee’s CTO slowly begins to allow the trainee to work more indipendently until they are able to process 911 calls and administrative calls without direct supervision. By this time ten weeks have passed. The trainee continues to work indipendently over the next several weeks with the support of their teammates, when needed. During this time several Quality Assurance Reviews are completed in order to verify the trainee is continuing to following policies and procedures. Also during this time each trainee receives training and certification in Emergency Medical Dispatch and Emergency Fire Dispatch (through the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch). They also receive their First-Aid training and certification.
About four months after the trainee has begun their 911 call-taker training, they are brought back into the classroom for a three week Fire Dispatch Academy using the same teaching format used for 911 call-taker training. Then, they receive three weeks of on the job training with a CTO.
They are then brought back into the classroom for a three week Police Dispatch Academy using the same basic format as the previous two academies, including OJT at each of the police dispatch positions.
By the eight month mark the new employees have completed training in all three disciplines (911 call-taking, police dispatch, and Fire/EMS dispatch) and are considered fully functional.
Additionally, during their first year with us they are sent to Santa Fe DPS (Department of Public Safety) for a three week academy that results in certification with the State of New Mexico as a Public Safety Communications professional.
During their first year with us, employees receive approximately one thousand hours of formal training just to learn the basics of this very demanding and complex profession.