Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Emergency Dispatch Calls and High School Kids

Erroll Le Vant has posed a question that I think is tough to answer.

He says that in Houston, high schoolers from the magnet school training law enforcement officers are being used to answer emergency calls (not 911). The post asks what we think, so I figured I'd throw in my two cents worth (if I have that much).

Seems to me that the only way to get ready to do the hard job of emergency dispatch is to get some on the job training, so I have no problem with trainees answering the calls, under supervision. What concerns me is the age of the kids. It could be hard, and even traumatic, for the kid if things went badly. It is the sort of thing that sets the kid up for big-time failure if anything went very badly. So far, thankfully, it has not.

I don't know how closely the kids are being supervised, though. If there is a very competent person on hand all the time while the student is answering calls, then I think it is good. I don't just mean competent in answering the calls, but a competent trainer who will recognize immediately when it is time to take over, if the situation warranted it. If that is the case, then I think it is a good program to continue. But I am a little wary about that. I guess we all know that there are times that trainers are either not as competent or not as committed as they should be. I would hope (and expect) that in a magnet school situation that this would not be the case.

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