The Marion County Public Safety Communications Department recently earned fire and medical re-accreditations from the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch (NAED).
This re-reaffirms that call-takers and dispatchers serving Marion County are among the best in the world. While many dispatch centers are accredited in fire or medical call-taking procedures, Marion County’s Communications Center is one of only 25 across the globe that is dual certified.
"Having this caliber of dispatchers and call-takers working behind the scenes in emergency situations is something the community can be proud of," said Marion County Public Safety Communications Director, Karl Oltz. "They receive more than three months of training and their work is constantly reviewed and critiqued because how they respond at the other end of the line in any given situation can mean life or death," he added.
Obtaining the re-certification is a process that takes several months and requires the communications center to score a 95 percent or better in 20 categories that ensure dispatchers are asking the right questions, providing a high level of medical and emergency assistance via phone, participate in continuing education and more. The NAED determines whether these and other parameters have been met by reviewing 911 calls and reports at random.
All call-takers and dispatchers at the center are trained to handle fire, medical and law enforcement calls, which saves time during emergencies as well as tax-payer dollars.
“Having cross-trained call-takers allows call-takers to eliminate re-asking three questions, which creates a time-savings of 25 to 30 seconds per each call,” said Oltz. “It’s something we’re proud of – being able to react 20 seconds quicker in an emergency situation is a big deal,” he added.
Moreover, the Communications Center doesn’t stop at maintaining a high-level of competency – it aims to save taxpayers money as well. The current center was established in 2011 and brought Marion County Fire Rescue and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 dispatchers and call-takers from their respective agencies together in the same building. In October 2012, Ocala Fire Rescue joined them in a collaborative agreement that will save local taxpayers more than $500,000 during the 2012-2013 fiscal year alone.