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Staffing is the Number One Challenge in Public Safety – Get the Details from NENA 2023
Top 3 key takeaways from our recent session at NENA, "Getting Creative with PSAP Staffing and Working from Home."

At NENA 2023, Steve Raucher, RapidDeploy CEO and Co-founder, joined Jacob Saur, Arlington ECC Director on stage to discuss challenges faced in recruiting and retaining telecommunicators, the path to embracing technology, and the potential of remote call-taking with the transformative power of technology in today’s PSAPs.  

Here are some of the key topics and learnings from the lively session.

Staffing Shortages and Recruitment Challenges:

The industry is grappling with an average staffing shortage of 30%. The following factors are contributing to the difficulties in recruiting and retaining telecommunicators:

  1. Stress: The high-stress nature of the job poses challenges for attracting and retaining talent.
  2. Low pay: Compensation levels often fail to compete with other sectors, making it challenging to attract skilled professionals.
  3. Workload and Shiftwork: Long hours and shift work impact work-life balance, leading to higher turnover rates.
  4. Tech Limitations: Outdated software and a lack of familiar features hamper productivity and frustrate employees.
  5. Inflexibility: The requirement to work solely within the PSAP limits flexibility and may deter potential candidates.

Remote Call Taking - A Retention Tactic:

Jacob shared how Alexandria’s 911 center has addressed remote call taking as a strategy for employee retention. Over the years, increasing workloads and the introduction of new tools have extended training times, with almost three years required for training at their center. Arlington ECC implemented 12 remote call-taking stations in dispatch and two in remote fire dispatch.  

Key highlights of their approach include:

  1. Scalability: In the event of a mass incident, additional call-takers can be easily added remotely, reducing travel time and ensuring a safer response.
  2. Post-Pandemic Utilization: Following the pandemic, remote call-taking stations were repurposed for overtime shifts while employees returned to the center for regular shifts.
  3. Enhanced Technology: Upgrades to equipment will enable employees to work regular shifts from home, utilizing tools like Amazon Connect and Microsoft Teams for collaboration.
  4. Transcription and Analysis: Arlington is testing AWS transcription services to analyze non-emergency calls and gain valuable insights.
  5. Shared Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): ECC Arlington is willing to share SOPs to facilitate the implementation of remote call-taking solutions in other PSAPs.

Overcoming Challenges with Technology:

Steve emphasized the need to use technology to solve problems, including staffing, operations and performance. In addition to cloud-native mapping and analytics, RapidDeploy recently announced RapidONE, a new browser-based call-handling solution that will further enhance the emergency response workflow, simplify operations and create more flexible and portable working environments. The discussion with Jake and Steve highlighted the need to embrace technology to:

  • Provide the 911 support to communities from anywhere
  • the number of screens and workspace needed to effectively and efficiently communicate with callers and dispatch with accuracy
  • Improve the emergency response working experience by offering staff greater flexibility in high-stress, demanding jobs  

By adopting flexible work arrangements and leveraging advanced tools, ECCs and PSAPs can address staffing issues, improve efficiency, and enhance emergency response services.  

It is crucial for the industry to embrace innovation and adapt to the changing landscape to create a more resilient and effective emergency communication system.

Steve Raucher and Jacob Saur presenting at NENA 2023 "Getting Creative with PSAP Staffing and Working from Home."
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