Wayne County E911 (West Virginia) handles approximately 80,000 emergency calls per year and has a minimum staffing per shift of two call takers/dispatchers.
Each Wayne County dispatcher holds Total Response certifications in Law Enforcement, Fire, and Emergency Medical Dispatch, and performs in-house call assessment in two-week intervals.
Wayne County E911 started looking for an Emergency Medical Dispatch protocol provider to comply with West Virginia’s pending state mandate. Agency leaders wanted a solution that allowed them to meet the state’s requirements while retaining their individual identity and maintaining the flexibility to adapt to any incident.
In conducting their due diligence, Wayne County E911 attended a special presentation by PowerPhone and the leading competitors. They followed this up with site visits to neighboring agencies using each system and were impressed with the quality of Total Response’s operations in the field.
Prior to implementing Total Response, Wayne County did not have processes in place to consistently advise 911 callers how to best position themselves during an EMD, police or fire response, nor to offer pre-arrival instructions to callers.
Because Wayne County E911 is a small agency in a rural community, finding access to high-quality training has been a major challenge and there were concerns about finding the resources to train the entire department on a new system.
Training Supervisor Jami Drake became an early supporter of PowerPhone because of Total Response CACH’s better flow and less generic application. She particularly liked how the call-handling protocol transitions between primary and secondary questions providing prompts that help keep the Call Handler focused on each call’s details.
It was also important that the call-handling program fully integrated with their TriTech CAD. Total Response CACH has an open API, meaning any CAD has the capability to develop an interface to the system. This approach is unique to the industry.
Unlike other 911 call-handling protocol systems that insist on rigid adherence to generic protocols, Total Response provides the training, tools, and processes needed to set your own standards and to reliably measure effectiveness.
Wayne County E911 didn’t view the EMD mandate as a requirement to apply rigid protocols to their emergency medical calls, they viewed it as an opportunity to define their own standard of care and create a reliable monitoring system for continuous improvement.
The result has been an increase in employee confidence, greater respect from the callers and the appreciation of emergency responders as calls are handled in a more consistent and thorough way.
Training Supervisor Jami Drake says that adding pre-arrival instructions to 911 calls has “helped the callers feel a little more empowered to help.” More than that, Total Response displays information within a logical framework offering call handlers the guidance needed to get the right response to the right caller based on that particular emergency’s situation.
With Total Response, Wayne County experienced benefits and growth that far surpassed the state EMD mandate requirements, particularly in the areas of accessible training and meaningful call assessment:
PowerPhone’s DispatchU education portal addressed Wayne County’s training access concerns. DispatchU offers the same high caliber of education to students anywhere in the world.
Call handlers conducted all of their training during downtime between calls creating extensive time and labor savings because Wayne County didn’t have to pay for and schedule out separate travel and classroom time as they did in the past. In essence, Wayne County E911 got a free week of each student’s time by not having to send them away for training.
Total Response uses proven call assessment techniques to measure how effectively agencies follow their defined standard of care. The process is conducted in-house by each agency and both celebrates successes and identifies improvement areas. Call-handler performance is reviewed in a holistic way, not merely held against a checklist of do’s and don’ts.
Wayne County E911 assigned one staff member, Cindi Wilson, to serve as Quality Assurance Manager. Cindi was an able and determined employee who took full advantage of all training opportunities presented to her.
Under Wilson, Wayne County has seen an increase in call-handling effectiveness. They’ve seen a dramatic increase in call handler consistency by being able to train new hires to go back and apply their performance to the documented standards.
Call assessment has had a “very positive impact on staff morale,” according to Wilson, and the change in employee confidence is strongly reflected in their calls. The protocol prompts call handlers to remember what information to get from each call in the moment and, “make sure they’re not missing anything.” Wilson believes that call assessment has “helped weaker dispatchers become better.”
By focusing on defining and implementing a clear standard of care for what they wanted out of 911 call handling, and regularly measuring their progress towards reaching that standard with call assessment, Wayne County E911 has transformed their 911 call handling operations and received Total Response Accreditation from PowerPhone.
What started as a simple evaluation of the best ways to comply with West Virginia’s EMD mandate has turned into a fresh approach to 911 call handling that has boosted employee morale, increased the community’s appreciation for Wayne County E911, brought world-class training into their PSAP and created a more consistent and measurable level of service for the citizens of Wayne County, West Virginia.