After the Webinar: Dispatch as Incident Command. Q&A with Halcyon Frank

Webinar presenter Halcyon Frank answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Dispatch as Incident Command: A Multi-Disciplinary Team Approach. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Have you engaged in CIT crisis intervention training for dispatchers? 

Halcyon Frank: I have not been through the whole program. I have attended different trainings that overlap. But I think that one is a really good one. And also, any kind of thing like a lot of departments have their own negotiators sworn, anything like that. But I think any trainings like crisis intervention training, even negotiation training helps us communicate is beneficial. Because sometimes that just even helps with like a suicidal caller or other kinds of callers where we’re trying to communicate better. So, I have not been through the whole program but I have been through a couple of different trainings that overlap. That is something at some point I’d lve to go through.


Audience Question: How would dispatch be incident command? Like how would a dispatcher take command of an incident? Is that what you mean? 

Halcyon Frank: So, usually if you’re the dispatcher putting out the call. If you’re like me, you come from a one-stop-shop dispatch. Call taker, dispatcher. A lot of time we dispatch or incident command it’s the first on scene or specifically, the agency has decided who wants to get on-scene will take over. So, a lot of times this is just going to naturally be whatever dispatcher is putting out that call. You are assuming that incident command role. It may be something a little more specific within your agency that you guys decide. But usually, it is just who is dispatching that call and you are assuming the lead role if you will.


Audience Question: What do you think of the difference between PSAP versus real-time crime centers? 

Halcyon Frank: I am not as familiar with the real-time crime centers as I would like to be. And so, I think there are some overlap there. Obviously, they’re not as far as I know the call taking and the dispatching. But I think there are definitely ways for them to work together to be even more efficient. I just don’t know enough to necessarily speak about the difference between them. But both are definitely intelligence-gathering. So, I think there are definitely strengths to both in a way for them to work together.


Audience Question: Do you have any tips to getting invited to trainings with user agencies that are either reluctant or non-committal? 

Halcyon Frank: I would definitely just start with your basic relationship building. So, it takes time. But if you don’t kind of have a relationship with them at all, I would start there and figure out, “Okay, I need to talk to them, develop more or report with them.” And then as you start to that, I think it’s easier to get in on that kind of stuff. Also, even approaching it maybe from a not, you know, “We want to be a part of this and be dispatching this,” but “Hey, we just wanted to know if we can come watch your exercise or drill or whatever they call it, you know, we just want to come observe it. So that we would know how you guys are responding, so we can adjust accordingly,” I think can be helpful way to approach it as well. But again, I think just relationship building is kind of the foundation of it. And then finding out kind of what their language is to speak. Do they not want you to be in it, but they’re okay with you watching it and then maybe once you watch it, you’re able to say, “Oh, you guys you can do that. We could actually help with this,” and building from there.


Audience Question: What are the most common objections that you’ve heard regarding why dispatch shouldn’t be part of a drill. What are the best responses for those? 

Halcyon Frank: I think one of the Just kind of natural ones is because dispatch isn’t on-scene, they don’t always necessarily see dispatch as part of that role. It’s also because sometimes the assumption even from law enforcement partners, and I’m not saying that this is intentional or they’re trying to be belittling when they do it. Their assumption may be that communications takes calls and dispatches that like that’s it. So what would they have to maybe contribute or be a part of this exercise. So, I think naturally those can just be kind of obstacles, they don’t see the value in it, depending on the relationship between dispatch and law enforcement or even fire EMS departments. If it’s not a good relationship that becomes you know a reason that they don’t want them. But I think a lot of times they just don’t necessarily see the value in it for various reasons that it’s good to have dispatch there.


Audience Question: How important do you believe it is to have a delegated EOC representative for communication centers that are always invited to different incident command events? 

Halcyon Frank: I think it’s important to have consistency and make sure that we’re not just necessarily sending out a random dispatcher if you will to every event. But also important to make sure that we’re not just sending one person. Not sure if that’s what they’re asking. I apologize I only had one cup of coffee today. It may just not be going through my brain, but it’s super important to have somebody that’s going to represent the communication center.  Because I think, to me, it’s kind of like, if you work for a government and you have a budget, you never want to ask for less money, even if you had some leftover, you always want to at least ask for the same or more and that’s kind of with this batch. I think we always want to make sure that we’re being represented because that time that we don’t is a time people may then be like, okay, well we’re not going to invite them in the future. So super important to have somebody there for communication centers that are invited. But I would also suggest to and again, I don’t know. It’s necessarily part of the question, not just having it one person go either.


Audience Question: Is an incident dispatch team equivalent to having the communications center involved in incident command? 

Halcyon Frank: It is but not. So, an incident dispatch team. If we’re talking about one that goes out to actually gets to help at the scene would support incident command, but this is more of even before they would get on scene. So, this is just your call taker, call takers, or taking the calls for the significant event. It’s getting dispatched out in this very beginning stages is where we’re kind of taking that incident command role and taking control of that, initial coordination of responses.


Audience Question: I come from a 10-year career in 911 Communications and now manage a security operation Center for a large corporate security team. Many of them do not have specific, 911, backgrounds and training, and so on trying to expose them to more of that. So what training recommendations do you have for dispatchers that are just starting out? 

Halcyon Frank: This is like my favorite question because I love training. There’s a lot of resources of dispatch. Whether that’s from NENA, National Emergency Number Association, APCO, the foundation. Even just a YouTube search will pull things up. So, any kind of basics especially like, for a security team, the call-taking skills, the information gathering can really be relevant. Anything like that. Even a day in the life, there are some videos on YouTube can be helpful. So just finding those again, those initial kind of training, so the call taking the dispatching, that can give him a better old picture idea of what that what’s included in working in 911.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Dispatch as Incident Command: A Multi-Disciplinary Team Approach. 


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