The Call - Winter 2016 - 8

P R E S I DE N T 'S M E S S AG E

A Collaborative Approach
to Hiring for PSAPs

Renee Hardwick, ENP
NENA President

One of the biggest challenges our PSAPs face
today is maintaining appropriate staffing levels.
Many PSAPs are understaffed, adding strain to the
already stressful environment 9‑1‑1 professionals
deal with on a daily basis. The cumulative effect
is detrimental for everyone involved - the public
may experience extended wait times or receive
poor customer service from frazzled call takers,
and our telecommunicators' mental and physical
health is negatively impacted by heavy workloads
and excessive overtime. While overtime is a
necessary tool used to ensure the needs of the
public are met, too much overtime can reduce
productivity, increase distractedness during shifts,
and lead to burnout and high turnover rates.
In the past two years, my PSAP in Horry County,
South Carolina has, on average, had to hire five
or six telecommunicators every quarter. As most
of you can probably imagine, it has been tough
to find the kind of applicants we want and need
for our center. Most of our efforts have produced
fewer than 150 applicants. But as we all know, the
application phase is just the start of the process.
Following application review, qualified candidates
must complete a backgrounds investigation,
including drug testing, deteriorating our original
pool of 150 candidates to a mere eight or ten
contenders - not nearly the kind of numbers
anyone would hope for.
With such disappointing results, it became
clear that we had to change the way we approach
hiring, including the way we look for candidates.
We joined with our neighbors in Charleston
County to share best practices and develop new
recruiting programs and resources. Both counties
began utilizing the media to increase the number
of applications received. In Horry County, we
conducted a media outreach campaign tied to
our reporting our staffing shortages at a county
Public Safety Committee meeting. Our neighbors
in Charleston held a press conference to discuss
their staffing needs. Both approaches yielded
immediate results; in Horry County we saw a
two‑hundred percent increase in applicants!
Partnering with academic institutions has been
shown to be an effective method of broadening
the potential 9‑1‑1 talent pool. A number of states

8

| T H E C A L L | W I N T E R 2 017

and counties are working with high schools and
technical colleges to offer 9‑1‑1 career training
programs. In Horry County, we have joined with a
local technical college to place their students in our
center. We look forward to growing and developing
this relationship into an evergreen staffing resource.
Participating in high school and college job fairs has
been effective for Charleston County. And while this
may not be an option for every agency, the center
there has hired a fulltime recruiter to attend such
events, participate in industry conferences, and
engage in community outreach.
Recruitment is just the first step, of course,
and both Horry and Charleston counties are
working on ways increase employee retention.
One successful approach for us has been creating
different promotion levels for telecommunicators.
This acknowledges employees and instills in them
the idea that career advancement in the 9‑1‑1
field is achievable. We're also planning to staff a
public educator position in hopes of decreasing
our non‑emergency call volume, thus reducing the
burden on our call takers. Charleston is combatting
their non‑emergency call‑load by having dedicated
call takers staff administrative lines. This allows the
center to slowly acclimate new hires to the world of
9‑1‑1, and shifts on these lines provide respite for
those who feel overworked or overstressed. They're
also working to fight employee burnout head‑on
by reviewing their shift‑length policies and by
providing exercise equipment like treadmills and
stationary bicycles at (or under) consoles.
Staffing challenges are nothing new to 9‑1‑1,
but the way we're addressing them certainly
can be. Innovative solutions may be just next
door, or only an email away. NENA already has
quite a few standards, information documents,
and educational resources available to help you
improve your recruiting, hiring, and retention
efforts. We've even got a few committees working
issues like pre‑employment education right
now, and they need your input! If you would
like to get involved (and you should!), then
you can contact either of our PSAP Operations
Co‑Chairs (April Heinze [aheinze@indigital.net] or
Wendi Lively [wlively@spartanburgcounty.org])
or our PSAP Operations Director, Chris Carver,
at ccarver@nena.org. ●



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Winter 2016

President’s Message
From the CEO
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
Government Affairs
10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
Tech Trends
NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
Operations
Educational and Operational Issues
Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
Index to Advertisers/Advertisers.com
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover1
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover2
The Call - Winter 2016 - 3
The Call - Winter 2016 - 4
The Call - Winter 2016 - 5
The Call - Winter 2016 - 6
The Call - Winter 2016 - 7
The Call - Winter 2016 - President’s Message
The Call - Winter 2016 - From the CEO
The Call - Winter 2016 - Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
The Call - Winter 2016 - 11
The Call - Winter 2016 - 12
The Call - Winter 2016 - Government Affairs
The Call - Winter 2016 - 10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
The Call - Winter 2016 - 15
The Call - Winter 2016 - 16
The Call - Winter 2016 - 17
The Call - Winter 2016 - 18
The Call - Winter 2016 - Tech Trends
The Call - Winter 2016 - NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
The Call - Winter 2016 - 21
The Call - Winter 2016 - 22
The Call - Winter 2016 - Operations
The Call - Winter 2016 - Educational and Operational Issues
The Call - Winter 2016 - 25
The Call - Winter 2016 - Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
The Call - Winter 2016 - 27
The Call - Winter 2016 - 28
The Call - Winter 2016 - 29
The Call - Winter 2016 - 30
The Call - Winter 2016 - 31
The Call - Winter 2016 - 32
The Call - Winter 2016 - 33
The Call - Winter 2016 - Index to Advertisers/Advertisers.com
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover3
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover4
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