York County 911 earns PEMA certifications

York County 911 has received certifications from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, PEMA, for its training and quality assurance programs, each a county first for the department since the new standards were enacted.

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Achieving these certifications required a structured call-taking protocol system for police, fire and medical calls as well as training standards for dispatchers that include CPR instruction, hazmat awareness and stringent geographical knowledge.

There is now a 48-hour police, fire and medical protocol requirement for dispatchers in training – three times as much as was needed before this certification. A new employee would have to go through up to six weeks of training with an additional four weeks of on-the-job training.

Existing staff had to go through the equivalent of another full week of training in addition to their regular schedules, which made the task a heavy lift, especially amid the pandemic.

“It goes to show we’ve achieved a standard of care and responsiveness to the citizens of the county based on best practices established by the state,” said Matt Hobson, director of York County 911.

“We did it during the pandemic and with short staffing,” said York County Commissioner Ron Smith. “We had the union buy in and administration assisted on the floor. It was truly a team effort.”

The protocol implementation process started in November 2020 and was completed in July 2021.

Training and quality assurance protocols are established by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch.

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