Ep 44: Comm Center Challenges Part 2

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Episode 44: 911 Communication Center Challenges in Active Shooter Events (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this week's podcast, we are continuing our topic of 911 and the dispatch center during an active shooter event.

Bill Godfrey:

Welcome to the Active Shooter Incident Management Podcast. My name is Bill Godfrey, your podcast host. Today we're picking up part two coming back to our topic of 911 and the dispatch center during an active shooter event. I've asked our three instructors that were here for part one to come back and join us again. We've got Ken Lamb from the law enforcement side. Ken, thanks for coming back.

Ken Lamb:

Yes, sir. You're welcome.

Bill Godfrey:

Tom Billington from fire EMS.

Tom Billington:

Glad to be here again. More good information to cover.

Bill Godfrey:

Fantastic. And Leeanna Mims. Good to see you again.

Leeanna Mims:

Glad to be back.

Bill Godfrey:

All right, so let's get into part two. Let's talk about the non 911 phone calls that have to be made and come in. I'm talking about, I need mutual aid but I don't have an automatic CAD connection so I have to call this agency on the phone. Then the agency has to check with a supervisor, they've got to call me back. I've got every supervisor in the agency calling in because they think they're important enough to get a personal briefing on what's going on, on the incident. I've got a handful of notifications I've got to make to all of the off duty chiefs that don't, well, we used to all wear pagers, but don't respond to their notifications. We're required to give them these notices. I need to call EOC, emergency management, all these activations.

And then you've got the media calling in. First of all, did I miss anything in that windup? And then what are some of the tips and suggestions we've got on how to manage that volume of calls coming in and out that are not 911, but still somewhat, I wouldn't call them all essential, but they're certainly related to the call.

Tom Billington:

I think one of the things that I've experienced in my career is you have to have systems in place, whether it's a reverse 911, automatic paging, automatic phone messaging, where instead of calling nine or 10 supervisors, the dispatcher pushes one button, it sends a message to nine or 10 supervisors - here's what's going on. Again are you talking about like systems like Everbridge, IPAWS, all those?

Bill Godfrey:

Yes.

Tom Billington:

That way. You don't have one dispatcher making multiple phone calls. And also you're going to get the politicians and the higher-ups calling you and you don't want to hang up on the mayor, that's not always a good job. So you want to make sure that you have a dispatcher that can handle that type of pressure, a separate person, just for that. We used to call it rumor control. It's phone calls that were not 911 intentive, but they were about the incident and they needed to talk to somebody to get an update.

Ken Lamb:

Yeah, just to add on to what Tom was saying, I think an idea as far as who to bring in to be the conduit to some of those communications would be your local EOC. Who is going to be more than willing and able to assist in these incidents and they have the contacts established. And letting them know exactly the need to know information, as well as plugging in your PIO, public information officer, and utilizing social media to get that information out to the public. Because presumably there's going to be some intelligence that comes in through some of those phone calls from the public at least, and you want a way to funnel some of that information.

And when we talk about some of those internal contacts, I think that you can solve a lot of heartburn by having a notification system, to what Tom was saying, and making sure that you're putting out that information to the internal contacts, as well as the media, so that everyone's getting the same information. Because the last thing you want to do is start providing different information to different people. You want one clear and consistent message.

Tom Billington:

And, Ken, a good example of that through our history is the Amber alert. There is now a system in place where somebody types in a couple of words, push a button and thousands of people hear the right information that they all agree on and it goes out. So that's a real good example.

Leeanna Mims:

Well, and you know in advance who some of those calls are going to be from that are going to overload your system. And you have to have those discussions with them ahead of something happening and let them know what kind of procedures that you have in place. And one way to do that is with status updates, over whatever system that you have, and making sure ahead of time they know we are going to tell you as soon as we can what it is it's going on. On certain things this is how we have it categorized or broken down. Trust you're going to get an automatic notification. You're going to get an automatic notification again when we hit certain benchmarks.

And for the most part, in a lot of those calls that are coming in, if they know that ahead of time, that's going to be all that they need. They need to be able to answer questions that they're receiving. And, in some cases, depending on who it is in your system, they have reason to know. They really do. But you don't want to make 50 phone calls. And then again, what Ken brought up, too, is the PIO. Your PIO in those cases really can serve as a liaison officer in helping field those calls, help dispatch sort what is immediate and what can wait till later.

Ken Lamb:

And I think in the context of this conversation, when we were talking about the call center dispatch center is recognizing that you need someone to start working on all this information that's making it into the dispatch center or the call receiving center, and reaching out to either the officer or the incident commander on the ground and saying it would be helpful for you send an officer up here to start sorting this information. Or reaching out to a comm center supervisor and saying we need someone else over here to start sorting through this information. Because the reality is there's nothing stopping this information from making it to the communication center. The important aspect is having a process in place to organize it, synthesize it, go through it, find out what's necessary and what's not. And then get it to the people that need to know in an efficient manner. So that if it's important and you need to act on, you can as quickly as possible.

Bill Godfrey:

And I don't want to leave this without distinguishing between two things. So one is the need of the incident itself. And when I say that I mean the idea that the intelligence officer needs to be able to go through the CAD notes, go through the incoming 911, go through the incoming text messages that came through the 911 texting system, and be able to process that for any actionable information related to the incident. So that's one bucket. The other bucket and the one we were just talking about that I think is, I don't want to say this in relation of importance, but certainly in terms of volume, is the bucket of all of those, what I'll call utility calls. Calls that the dispatchers have to make to get mutual aid moving, the notification calls, the calls that are coming into them.

And, Leanna, you mentioned making arrangements for plans ahead of time, and I think part of that needs to be the supervisory staff at the comm center, having some discussions with the chiefs and with their higher-ups, to let them know there's a habit of people calling in and we get it, but when we have something like this, we're going to be slammed. What can we do? Can I say to you, when you call in, I don't have time to talk, but I need some additional people here. Can you send me a couple additional bodies just to kind of handle those what I'll call utility calls. You don't necessarily need to know how to use the CAD system. Because quite frankly, if you're a field responder and you've never been in 911, you walk in and sit down one of those consoles and you're lost. You don't have a clue how to use the radio, how to use the CAD system. Quite frankly, even how to use the phone.

But at least with that bucket of utility calls, someone from the chief ranks or the supervisory ranks or just some additional line personnel, can come in and begin to handle some of those phone calls. We didn't specifically talk about texting on the 911 system, so I do want to mention that before we leave it. Many dispatch centers, not all, but many have implemented the ability to receive text messages sent to 911. And some more successfully than others. Part of what I want to hit on here is dispatchers, because they're so overloaded are, I think it was Tom earlier that said how quickly can I get them off the phone? How quickly can I say we've got that information we need to get off the phone, and move on to the next one.

They're moving so quickly that they might move right over a key piece of information that really matters. And unfortunately we've seen this on a couple of after actions where it was discovered that there was some fairly actionable information that could have really mattered on the scene. And it just got missed because there was one person on duty or two people on duty trying to handle all this stuff. And so it's not like anybody did anything wrong. It's just the reality of it. But I didn't want to leave this topic without kind of talking about that.

Tom Billington:

And, Bill, I agree totally with the texting thing. There are rural areas of the country, which we teach at, they don't have all this technology.

Bill Godfrey:

Or more than one dispatcher on duty.

Tom Billington:

Right. So they have what's called a chain letter calling where the dispatcher calls one person, a fire officer or law enforcement officer, and that person's position is responsible for calling other positions, et cetera, et cetera. And so it's interesting how even the rural areas, they're very small, one or two dispatchers, three or four deputies, maybe volunteer fire department. There are things you can do if you practice it and put these systems in place.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. I think I've heard it called call tree before. Anybody else heard it called anything else? Okay. All right. Very good. Let's move on now. Let's talk a little bit about, so we're past the initial call, so we've got the call dispatched, the units are there, we're starting to move through the incident. Maybe the suspect is in custody or down, we're at the 10 minute mark moving into it. One of the things that I wanted to take a minute to talk about was kind of the typical timeline of these things and some of the key benchmarks, including elapsed time notifications. And so I want to talk about those for a minute.

Ken Lamb:

Right. I think one of the first critical benchmarks is for the arriving officer to identify the hot, warm, and cold zones. And it can be so difficult to forget because of the amount of information that that person is taking in who is on scene. I mean, you just think about the chaos that's going on, the yelling, the screaming, just everything that's going on. And then trying to report back the number of casualties and survivors and whatnot, for the dispatcher to prompt what is the warm zone, what is the hot zone, to the original officer, their first arriving officer, or tactical, so that we can have a more efficient and safe approach I think is so critical. Because the last thing anyone wants is A) an over-convergence on the target and B) officers getting engaged while they're in their cars. That's terrible. And the way we fix that is for the first arriving officer and the following officers to identify those hot, warm, and cold zones. And if they haven't done it, then the dispatcher having the knowledge to prompt that information on the radio from those officers.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, absolutely. I'd be happy if they just hit the hot zone. Honestly, I would be thrilled if in their size-up report, they got a quick size-up report, and just hit the hot zone.

Leeanna Mims:

That's absolutely true. And keeping in mind that warm zone, we need to know where it's at, too, for establishing that casualty collection point. We're trying to stop the bleeding, right? Stop the dying. We have to know where we're going to put people. And if we don't know where those zones are, that's really the starting point of where we're going to put that casualty collection point.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. So I think right there, and this is going to be a repetitive thing, we advocate very strongly that dispatchers should have the authority and the autonomy, of course along with the training, to know what these key benchmarks are. And when they're not hearing them to be able to gently prompt, and then prompt again, and then as necessary not so gently prompt. But Ken mentioned the opening the size-up report, that first officer's report, when they get there. What are they seeing? What are they hearing? Where's the hot zone? What are they doing? Are they going in? I think those are key elements. Obviously we want to make sure that somebody is taking charge. Somebody is taking a command.

Ken Lamb:

And we want to know when the suspect is engaged, what is the status? Understandably, an officer that just engaged the suspect is going to be going through a traumatic event and may not be putting all the information that's needed on the radio for an efficient and effective response. So if the officer puts over the radio that they've engaged the suspect and that's all, we need to know the status. Is the suspect still mobile? Is the suspect down? Where is the suspect? And that is information that the dispatcher can prompt from the officer to really streamline that response.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think so next up after that, so we got that initial arriving officer, we want to get that size-up report. We want to get the post engagement report if there is one. Staging? Need a staging location. If we're not hearing that, we want to ask. Hey, tactical, where were you going to set staging?

Ken Lamb:

The staging is so important. And I know there's been a number of podcasts on staging. I'm just a huge fan. And I'm a huge fan of a dispatcher understanding the importance of staging and prompting the location. And then after that, when you have various units that are coming up on the radio channel advising they're en route, the dispatcher advising them where staging is, putting it in the CAD so that officers can find it themselves. And in the newer CADS, in our jurisdiction, they update automatically. So it attempts to keep officers off the radio asking where do you need me? If we could just get rid of the officer coming on the radio saying, I'm on scene, where do you need me? I think we've achieved a monumental goal there.

But I do think in working towards achieving that goal, the dispatcher can be a critical piece by advising every so many minutes that the staging location is here, or when officers are advising they're en route, reminding the officers to report to the staging location so that we can synchronize that spot, that response, and keep people from over converging on the target.

Leeanna Mims:

Well, and I think with that comes along with educating dispatch as to why we want to know. Not just because it's on our checklist, but because of just that. When that staging is created, it is there to prevent that overload of coming into the scene and that convergence onto the scene that creates the chaos and things that we've seen in multiple case studies when there is no staging, no gatekeeper. And I don't know that we do the right job of helping dispatch understand why that benchmark is so key for them to hit, and why they should push if they haven't heard where's it at and what's the location.

Tom Billington:

And Leanna, you just touched on a very important part. When we do our trainings, we incorporate dispatchers obviously into our training sessions. And so many times the dispatchers will thank us for involving them, they had no idea why we do this. Why we have to have staging and what is a rescue task force? Why did you do that? They had no idea. It was sort of like out of sight, out of mind. Where the dispatchers are sometimes forgotten and if they're not involved, they're not going to know what is needed on scene. So a good point, Leeanna.

Bill Godfrey:

They ought to be included in the training all the time.

Ken Lamb:

Absolutely. And I think that goes back to the original point that we started this, as many of them are short-staffed. So it's a challenge of leadership.

Bill Godfrey:

It is. And it's a budget hit. I get that. Because now you've got to pay overtime to have somebody. And I get it. But all right, so you don't have room in the budget this year. You're working on your budget for next year, put a number in there. Make that argument to the city manager, the county manager, we've got some gaps here and need to fill these gaps with training and it's going to cost a little. And if you don't want me to spend overtime for it, then give me an additional staffing.

I realize it's not the easiest argument. Everybody at this table has had to make those arguments in budget meetings and we didn't win them all. But you win some of them, and you won't win any of them if you don't try. And there, I'm going to exit my soap box.

So before we leave, let's talk about some of the other benchmarks. So we got the arrival report, we got staging. What are some of the other key marks? I like the suspect down report is a big benchmark, I think.

Tom Billington:

Well, Bill, something on that though we hear so many times on after action reports, the suspect is down. At five minutes later, a dispatcher is giving the description of a suspect and that they're on the loose still. So we have to make sure that that information is updated to all the dispatchers to save crucial time, looking for somebody that's already in custody.

Ken Lamb:

Right. And I think what happens right there is that's where the misinformation comes in. Because I've seen that firsthand on an incident that I responded to where the suspect was neutralized very quickly. And those calls were still making their way into the communication center. And that information was still being put out on the radio. So it instantly started this idea of maybe there's a second suspect. So you spend so much time and resources running down the ground, whether or not there's a second suspect. And it does take some really switched on people to realize that this is the same one. And it takes a leap of faith, right? To say, no, there isn't a second suspect. But if we know the percentages, and I think that one of the awesome values in this course is walking through some of that information and understanding that 99% of these have one suspect. And knowing that ahead of time I think equips you really run this down to ground before we put this out to the officers that there may be a second suspect.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, absolutely. So I think the other one, and I'm not sure we explicitly said that, though I think somebody touched on it earlier. When we get the staging location, everybody who's not on the scene, we want to update where they're going to be to that scene, especially the mutual aid. That's one of the ones I think you make that initial request, you make that first phone call to the state police or to county XYZ telling them about an active shooter at this location. Once a staging location is set, you need to update that phone call and say send them to this location now. Update the location and that'll help avoid the over convergence.

Ken Lamb:

Well, not only that, but there's one thing that I think it's commonly overlooked is the ability to send out the MDT message. So you just continue sending out that message to all the responders on the MDT or MDC, whichever acronym you want to use, and you can eliminate being on the radio. You can just keep sending that message out every five or 10 minutes. So when responders log on and they're going to that call, they don't even need to get on the radio to ask, they have a message on their MDT telling them if you're responding to this incident, this is the staging location. And if you don't have an assignment, go to this location.

Tom Billington:

And as soon as possible, we need to tell the media where to go. That is a whole nother issue. Your PIOs, you want to tell him.

Bill Godfrey:

I always want to tell the media where to go.

Tom Billington:

They're going to call in and ask what's going on? And if you can say to them, there is a joint information center set up at the Sear's parking lot at such and such street, go there right now. They will go there. And that takes a lot more stress off the responders and people just showing up.

Bill Godfrey:

All right, what are the other benchmarks?

Leeanna Mims:

I just want to say I'm following up to what Tom just had said about the media. That's one of the calls that overloads your communication center. So if that information is out there where they need to go, hopefully that will help them, too, as far as cutting down on the number of calls they've got to filter.

Tom Billington:

Where's the command post? That's another big one.

Bill Godfrey:

Oh yeah, big one. Command post location.

Ken Lamb:

Yes, you definitely want to give the brass a location to go.

Bill Godfrey:

Somebody in command.

Ken Lamb:

Yes, absolutely. Who's in command?

Bill Godfrey:

Who's in charge?

Ken Lamb:

Right, because we know when we read these after actions, that's one of the biggest common after action item is - I didn't know who was in command. Well, if the dispatch knows that and they can, again, either say it on the radio or send out messages and say this person's in command, I think it clears up that. But I think another benchmark is, have you transported those survivors? Or those who have been impacted? Those who have been injured? Have they been transported off the scene?

Bill Godfrey:

First patient transported and then last patient transported?

Leeanna Mims:

What else is important through all of that too is we want to know when the scene's secure. And it used to be for fire we didn't go in at all until we heard a scene secure report. Well, now we're already there. We might be part of an RTF or wherever we are in the command structure, but we all want to know when everything has been neutralized. Whether it be one suspect, two suspects.

Bill Godfrey:

That's another one, suspect neutralized, suspect left the scene. I think one of the big gaps is that a lot of law enforcement agencies don't realize how important it is to relay that information to the fireside dispatch. Suspect descriptions. Suspect is down. Those are important things to be relayed over. The other one is the command post. There's nothing magic that says law enforcement has to set the command post or fire has to set it. We call out in our checklist for the law enforcement side to begin structuring that. But in some cases, fire department may set a command post location. That needs to be relayed to law enforcement so that we don't end up with two command posts. And if there's a problem with where somebody set it, then we fix it together and everybody moves. All right, any other benchmarks that are the critical ones that you can think of?

Ken Lamb:

I have a critical one, in my mind, that's not on our list, but that I think would be valuable. Have you co-located with fire rescue? I think it's so common.

Bill Godfrey:

That is on our list, Ken.

Ken Lamb:

But what I'm asking, is dispatch asking this, right? As a dispatcher, am I asking this of the supervisor on scene? I know we teach the importance of it. No doubt. And I hope and believe that anyone going through this course at the end of the two or three day course understand the value in doing that. I do believe that. But what I think would be valuable is if a dispatcher prompts the supervisor, the police supervisor, or the FD supervisor, have you co-located with either the police or have you co-located with fire rescue. So that we're stressing the importance of that, because it's easy to forget. You're focused on what you're trying to accomplish with your people and you forget because we don't practice this every day.

Bill Godfrey:

And for the dispatchers that are listening to this, I'll give you the big tip off, that they're not co-located. When whoever's in charge for law enforcement is asking you to relay things to whoever's in charge for fire? They're not in the same spot. When whoever's in charge of Fire-EMS is asking you to relay things to cops? They're not in the same spot. And that's a problem that we need to get fixed. Okay. The other thing before we leave benchmarks, it's kind of tied in and related, and that is elapsed time notifications. I want to kind of talk about that. So we recommend that starting at the 10 minute mark dispatchers, both on law enforcement and the Fire-EMS side, broadcast just in the blind real quick, the elapsed time notification. All units 10 minutes elapsed time, 10 minutes elapsed time. And then every five minutes or after, 15 minutes elapsed time, all units, 20 minutes elapsed time, 20 minutes elapsed time. And just to kind of keep that present, let's talk a little bit about why that's so important.

Ken Lamb:

The first thing that comes to mind with me is that you want to get those patients to the hospital within that golden hour. And unless you've gone through this course in law enforcement, that's not one of the initial concerns that you have. Initial concern is stop the killing, all right? And then we get to stop the dying. But you really don't understand the timeframe that you want to stop the dying, right? We're focused on providing that critical treatment that we can provide as police officers. But as a supervisor, you've got to start looking big picture and you understand I have an hour that I need to solve this. At least the immediate priorities, that being an active threat and the rescue. So it's a good reminder to me that I'm 20 minutes into this. Where am I at? Have I got these individuals transported? Am I working with my fire rescue EMS partners to get an ambulance down range? And I think when you ask that question, that's the first thing that came to mind for me.

Bill Godfrey:

Absolutely. If you're 20 minutes in and nobody's been transported, there's a problem. You need to get on it. Yeah. Tom, how about you? You got anything you want to add on the elapsed time notifications?

Tom Billington:

I agree totally there. Unless you take this course, which everybody should, stop the killing, stop the dying. Once that threat is neutralized or the threat may have left, having somebody remind you, 10 minutes, there's no stimulus we can find somebody. Let's start saving people. Let's start the tourniquets and let's start getting the rescue task forces and let's set up the CCP. So it does remind you. And so many times I've been on scenes in my career where I feel like I've been there for three days. It turns out it was only there for a couple of hours. So it kind of brings you back to reality check of how much time is going on. What can you shave off time to save some people? And what should you be doing?

Leeanna Mims:

Yeah. And I'll really pose this to Ken because it's really his wheel. I would think that on the law enforcement side, when you're caught up in the adrenaline of trying to catch an active shooter, you're not thinking about the clock. And when you hear that and if 10 minutes has gone by, 20 minutes has gone by and 30 minutes and nobody has yet reported that the suspect has been shot or neutralized, I would think that there's a whole nother thought process that you have to go through. Where has he gone? Is he still on the scene? Did he move to someplace else? And if he did, where would that might be? And really I don't know what all those questions would be, but I would think hearing that 10 minute prompt, 20 minute prompt, would help you start to switch the mindset.

Ken Lamb:

Oh, absolutely. And you should, as a police officer, have the ability to switch gears the entire time. You're never stuck in concrete. And that's the name of the game in active shooter response for law enforcement is being flexible. And when you don't have that active stimulus, realizing that my next important priority is rescue. So do I have individuals that I can provide that critical life safety medical response as a police officer? And for the initial responders, is it as important to hear the timeline? Probably not. The first arriving are solely focused on finding the active threat and then providing that rescue.

I think the time prompts are very important to the supervisors to understand, to remind them, you are under a time crunch, you don't have all day on this. You have an hour to knock out the first two priorities. And if you don't have an active threat, then the rescue is the most important priority. So you need to start focusing all your efforts into beating that clock. And that's why I believe we start our presentation on that clock because the reality is if the suspect is not currently shooting at them, then the clock is killing them. So that needs to be our intention. And I think it's a good reminder that if the suspect is not shooting them, then the clock is our biggest enemy. So start focusing on beating the clock.

Bill Godfrey:

You have to keep the clock in front of everybody. It's the critical piece of this. We teach in class when you're the supervisor on one of these things, what you're listening for and looking for is active threat is neutralized. RTF's downrange. Ambulance exchange point is set. We're transporting patients. And there's an expected timeline really that you should try to have in your head. I mean, the goal is try to get everybody transported in 20 minutes. Now that's easier said than done. It's achievable. But it's easier said than done. But as I commented earlier, if you're at the 15 minute mark or the 20 minute mark and the RTF's are not down range, that's a red flag. Why? What has gone wrong? What do we need to do? I'm hearing the 25 minute benchmark, my RTFs have been down range for 10 minutes and I've got no ambulance exchange points set up. That's going to be a problem. That's going to catch up with me real soon.

Because in just a minute or so, RTF's are going to start telling me they're ready to transport and we've missed that extra step. And so I think keeping that clock in front of everybody, the reality is study after study has shown when you're in cognitive overload, time plays a funny game in your head. It can get very elastic. It can seem very slow. It can seem very fast. And Tom said he can feel like he's been there three days, and it's only been a couple hours. I've experienced the reverse of that, where somebody has said you've been at for 20 minutes and it seemed like only five or six minutes has gone by. And so I think that's one of the really, really important reasons to provide those elapsed time notifications.

Ken Lamb:

And I'll just wrap it up on this. I also think that it provides an opportunity for every member of the team to recenter their focus. So if tactical is so focused on what's going on in the inner perimeter, inside the target, which he or she should be, then the first arriving supervisor can say 20 minutes, we don't have ambulances downrange. Hey tactical, are we getting ambulances down there? Do we have the CCP established? So it's just a good reminder, I think, for the entire team.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. And let me be clear. There may be a really good reason why that stuff hasn't happened by that timeline, but you better at least be asking the question and having it. Okay. So we talked a little bit earlier about getting additional resources in the dispatch center. And Tom mentioned the call tree a call down tree or some sort of notification. That was one of the things that we wanted to talk about. Just make sure that you've got a procedure or policy for being able to call in some additional help that can help you with move ups and community coverage, backfill, those kinds of things. Can also start going through the data with intelligence, whoever comes in from intelligence to kind of go through the stuff with you.

But lastly, before we wrap this up, I want to talk a little bit about, and I hate to use the word trend, but the very real possibility that a suspect is going to call 911 and have a conversation with a dispatcher. And how our lack of training and preparing dispatchers, people can throw all kinds of reasons at it, but at the end of the day, this is happening. I want to talk a little bit about that reality and some of the things that we might suggest to make that better.

Ken Lamb:

Right. So I believe it occurs because there's a void in communication from when the incident starts into what we presume is a hostage taking situation or there's some time there where they have the ability to make a phone call, and it stresses the importance that our dispatchers understand what questions to ask and what information to gain so that we can get it to either the responders who are on scene or the hostage negotiators who are going to be responding, 20-30 minutes later, whatever that timeline is. To quickly spin them up as quick as possible.

And I think there's really critical things such as I'm going to shoot these individuals in 10 seconds. If you don't understand the necessity of that information and getting it to the responders, that could be tragic because that will launch a group of trained responders in order to go neutralize the threat. Okay. So just having a good understanding of what information needs to make it to those responders immediately, I think is critical. And it really goes back to stress the importance of training with these dispatchers when we have these scenarios or these exercises, whether it's a tabletop or in person, so that they see the necessity to get that information. Because it seems like we plug in hostage negotiators, but we don't always plug in our communication dispatchers. And that's really important.

Leeanna Mims:

Hostage negotiators are trained and experienced. And, sure, it's hard to convey all of that in training to dispatchers. But I think what is critical is that we teach them what not to do. What not to do, what not to say. Because all they have to do is make one error that they don't even recognize and you don't know where it's going to send that shooter. You don't know where it's going to send them.

Tom Billington:

And it's happening more and more. I read more after action reports and more than ever, the bad guy calls 911. They want to give their signed declaration, or they want to say what they're doing. They want to talk about hostages. And the poor dispatcher is caught answering the 911 call, if they have not had any kind of training, like Leeanna just said, what should the dispatcher say? What kind of pointers do we give dispatchers? And obviously we know that there are training abilities to the FBI for telecommunicators on the negotiation, but also just some tips.

Such as if you're talking to somebody on the phone who's a bad person, you don't want that person hearing what's going on over the radio. We're making entry or we're doing this. So just some tips about telling the dispatchers that if you do get a call, you want to seclude yourself. You want to make sure that the other dispatchers know what you're doing and they're supporting you so you're not having to do multiple tasks. There's all sorts of things, but again, it's happening more and more. And if it's not the bad person calling, it's the hostages themselves. We've had so many incidents in the last few years where somebody calls 911 and says I am one of the hostages, what should I do? And it kind of puts the 911 dispatcher in a dilemma. What should they tell this person?

Bill Godfrey:

I think all of that is great stuff. And I'll say this doesn't have to be something that costs you a lot of money. Most agencies have a hostage negotiator. Even fairly small police departments typically have somebody that plays that role, or they partner with an agency that does. Ask them to come in and spend a day training. Spend a day with a dispatch crew and run them through some training and some scenarios and kind of help them with it because the stakes are too high. It's not fair to the dispatchers to know that this is a possibility they're going to get put in this role and then provide them no training, no help. That's just really not, not acceptable anymore.

All right. Well, I think we have come to a good place to wrap this up. I want to say thank you very much to all the listeners who've stayed with us through this two-part series. And I want to especially thank my instructors for doing this in two pieces, because we just had so much here to cover. It was more than we wanted to do in a single podcast. So thank you very much, Ken, Tom, Leeanna, thank you for being here. Thanks to our producer, Karla, for putting this together as always. Until next time stay safe.

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