Nine weeks in the life of a city police officer: The role E911 telecommunicators play in public safety

BUCKHANNON – I find that each week I attend the Buckhannon Citizen’s Police Academy I enjoy learning more and more.

I am anxious to find out about the folks in the community who are willing to put their lives on the line for me.

My big takeaway from week two of the Buckhannon Citizen Police Academy was a lesson in cooperation amongst agencies, as well as the importance of training. One of the important links is with the Upshur County Emergency Communications Telecommunicator staff headed up by Doyle Cutright, director.

Cutright said the Upshur County E911 Communication Center has eight full-time public safety telecommunicators. He said they are highly trained telecommunicators and are no longer referred to as mere “dispatchers.”

Upshur County has a population of nearly 24,000, and telecommunicators handle approximately 27,000 calls per year – and that number is on the rise.

“As far as calls go, nothing gets started until we say it starts,” Cutright said. “We are not dispatchers – we do not dispatch cabs. We serve an important role in emergency services.”

Upshur County E911 Communication Center Director Doyle Cutright discusses the important role emergency telecommunicators play in police work during a recent session of the Buckhannon Citizen’s Police Academy.

He said the mission of the center is to provide the highest level of service for the public in their time of need, serving as the critical communications link between the citizens and public service personnel.

“Upshur County Emergency Communications Telecommunicator staff members are highly trained,” he said. “Training includes 12 weeks minimum of the training program, and telecommunicator staff must pass NIMS (National Incident Management System) level 100, 200, 700 and 800.

“These folks must be certified with a 40-hour public safety telecommunications class, 32-hour LEC (Law Enforcement Communications) certification, 32-hour emergency medical dispatch class, must be certified in the WV WEAPONS System and must complete yearly Continuing Dispatch Education credits.”

I consider Upshur County residents not only fortunate to have such a well-trained police force, but also such a competent telecommunicator staff.

During the Academy, we were also able to check out the equipment a police officer wears – the vest is certainly heavy – I have no idea how they can run with so many attachments, but they do it.

As I said before, there are so many eye-opening things that our city police officers do on a daily basis and these sessions have continued to raise the respect I have for our fine officers in blue as well as those who work behind the scenes.

The Buckhannon Citizen Police Academy will sponsor future trainings, but if anyone wishes to be a member of the CERT – or the Community Emergency Response Team – it’s not too late to register for the training.

Those classes will begin April 17 and run each Wednesday evening through May 9. Registration for the CERT training is available by stopping at the Buckhannon City Police Department, by calling 304-472-5723 or by emailing timsmith@buckannonpolice.com.

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