In an effort to bolster the recruitment of police dispatchers, Montgomery College has partnered with county leaders to create a 911 dispatch academy to provide participants with the training needed for the job.
Beginning in September, people can participate in the six-week pilot course, receiving training from county emergency officials about basic communication operations, suicide intervention, domestic violence response and more. Participants will also receive CPR training and become certified in emergency medical, fire and police dispatching.
Dispatchers are responsible for fielding emergency calls, gathering pertinent information from the caller and determining the appropriate response for fire, police and medical personnel. Dispatchers in Montgomery County receive about 610,000 calls per year, according to county data.
The new Montgomery College course, which costs $970 for Maryland residents and will meet three evenings per week, is intended to give those interested in a career in 911 dispatching a leg-up when applying for jobs, according to Sharon Maxwell, Montgomery College workforce development program director.
The course prepares participants to apply for a public safety emergency communication specialist position for Montgomery County. The training offered during the academy is typically administered after a person is hired, Maxwell said. Emergency communication specialists earn an annual salary of between $40,000 and $65,000, according to a current job posting.
“There’s a big shortage of dispatchers, so we are trying to make this program exactly what (county officials) are looking for and what they need to fill these spots,” Maxwell said. “This is a really great start for someone who may not want to go on directly to college but are smart and would maybe like to get more technical experience and training.”
If the pilot is successful in the fall, Maxwell said Montgomery College will consider offering the program once or twice per year. Maxwell said she has received inquiries from other counties across the state interested in developing a similar program.
An information meeting about the course will be held on July 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Gaithersburg Business Training Center.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org