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Watauga County To Implement Police Priority Dispatch System In February To Better Serve

By Jesse Wood

Watauga County is implementing the Police Priority Dispatch System (PPDS) on Feb. 8, which local dispatch and law enforcement expect to better serve those locally in emergency situations.

This system will join similar fire and medical dispatch systems that Watauga County public safety personnel have utilized “successfully” for many years, according to Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagman, adding that this service is being paid for by the 911 board – and not the county.

According to a marketing brochure from Priority Dispatch, PPDS includes

  • Use of a case entry system
  • Identification and ordering of key questions
  • Logic-based selection of response determinants
  • Provides pre-arrival instructions to callers
  • Provides post-dispatch insructions
  • Collects detailed multiple descriptions
  • Constant flow of scene information to responders

Acknowledging the difficulties in moments where 911 is called, Hagaman stressed that it’s important that callers answer all of the questions and for dispatchers to reassure those on the line that help is on the way.

“One of the most important aspects, as it is with EMD and EFD, is that the 911 caller, speaking to the telecommunicator, remain calm and listen closely to the questions,” Hagaman said. “Many times, callers get frustrated with call takers because of the questions being asked, thinking help is not on the way. However, help is being sent, and the question responses are also being heard by others who are relaying vital information so units already being sent can have a clearer picture of what the emergency is.”

The sheriff’s office noted that the new protocol system enables dispatchers to accurately assess each emergency situation and send the best response possible to efficiently utilize the emergency services in the area – all the while increasing safety for both citizens and responders.

“One key benefit the Watauga County Communications Center will now provide is a constant stream of crucial and updated scene information to field responders en route. This information will better prepare responders to give precise assistance when they arrive at the scene,” the sheriff’s office noted in a release.

The system includes ProQA software and card sets, a three-day certification training course for emergency dispatchers and continual improvement benchmarks and training.

All dispatchers who work on the new system are certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) and must recertify every two years, completing 24 hours of continuing dispatch education (CDE) and passing all requirements for NAED recertification.

Use of this system, the sheriff’s office notes, allows communications centers to assess the quality of the care they are providing their communities, allowing them to make positive adjustments to training and staff in response to these assessments.

“As this system of protocol implementation, training, and quality improvement is set into place, you can be confident that Watauga County Communications Center is earning the public’s trust with every call and is your best possible source of help during times of police emergency,” the sheriff’s office said.