Public Safety Communications Training Academy
The role of a Fairfax County 9-1-1 call taker or dispatcher is often described as “a job like no other.” The ability to receive and process the public’s calls for emergency services requires intelligence, people skills and extensive training.
Newly hired Fairfax County 9-1-1 personnel attend an eight-week class at the Public Safety Communications Academy (PSCAD). Trainees must not be engaged in outside employment nor enrolled in school until they have successfully completed the Academy and their probationary period.
The PSCAD curriculum consists of:
- Animal Control
- Basic Spanish
- Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
- Crime Solvers
- Customer Service Telephone Techniques
- Event Types
- Laws and Ordinances
PSCAD Certification Exams
All students must pass certification exams on the following subjects:
- Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)
- Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD)
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Information Security
- National Incident Management System (NIMS)
- Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN)
Exams are based on all classroom instruction and students must pass each weekly exam with at least an 80% score. It is imperative that students study on a daily basis and use all of the resources provided to them at the academy. Students who fail to achieve a passing score on one of these exams have only one opportunity to retake it. Students who fail any other exam after failing one will not be allowed to retake it, resulting in separation from DPSC for not meeting minimum standards.
In addition, during the final week of the academy students are required to pass a written exam and a practical exam with a score of at least 85 percent on each. For these independent exams, students have only one opportunity to pass. Students who do not achieve a passing score on their first attempt are separated from DPSC.
PSCAD Course Objectives
- Familiarity with personnel rules and regulations as they apply to DPSC
- Identification of proper uniform requirements as outlined in the standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Ability to explain the functions of DPSC employees
- Identification of the Police Department organizational structure
- Identification of the Fire and Rescue Department organizational structure
- Demonstration of appropriate techniques used to answer calls in DPSC
- Demonstration of appropriate use of the DPSC telephone system
- Demonstration of appropriate sign-on and sign-off procedures for I/CAD
- Identification of the DPSC origin code
- Identification of the use of disposition codes
- Identification and demonstration of the use of call-taker commands and their functions
- Identification and demonstration of the use of message destination groups
- Identification of the phonetic alphabet
- Identification and demonstration of the use of the function keys
- Identification and demonstration of the use of the event mask.
- Demonstration of the various acceptable location formats for I/CAD entries
- Ability to accurately process and enter all events using the correct event types and sub-types
- Ability to provide appropriate pre-arrival instructions for EMS calls
- Identification and understanding of common laws and ordinances and the way they relate to event types
- Ability to recognize jurisdictional authority and boundaries within Fairfax County
- Ability to identify and list the commonly used route numbers and street names within Fairfax County
- Identification of limited access highways, bridges, malls, police stations and fire stations within Fairfax County
Basic Communication School
Immediately following successful completion of PSCAD, DPSC personnel attend the Basic Communication School (BCS) mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each student must pass the course with a 100% score. The 80-hour, two-week program is held at the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (MPSTOC).