Dispatchers take advanced training

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. and several lesser publicized incidents that followed served as a reminder the first responders need to be ready for anything.

From college campuses and mall shootings to workplace violence, active shooter scenarios pose a unique and difficult challenge for law enforcement officers to combat.

It’s an equally tense scenario for emergency dispatchers handling the incoming calls.

While the threat of physical violence isn’t there, the stress level and need to react quickly is equally as paramount.

That’s one reason the Belmont County 911 hosted ‘Active Shooting Response,’ an 8-hour, day-long class for area dispatchers this week.

The classes were held on Wednesday and Thursday at the Belmont County EMA building, adjacent to the 911 operations center.

Put on by PowerPhone and led by instructor Michael Teixeira, the class put area dispatchers through different active shooter scenarios and touched on various topics, including: pre-planning, profiling the active shooter, gathering vital intelligence, rapid deployment tactics and five phases of the active shooters, among others.

Nearly 60 area dispatchers took part in the two days of classes, including: Belmont County 911, Marshall County 911, Wheeling/Ohio County 911 along with members of the St. Clairsville, Barnesville, Shadyside and Martins Ferry Police Departments plus the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office.

“The class was a great opportunity for our local dispatchers to receive training on how to properly deal with active shooting events,” said Bryan Minder, Belmont County 911’s acting director. “I want our dispatchers to be trained to properly handle these types of calls so that we can ensure the safety of those responding, as well as those victims directly involved at the scene.

“You never know when or where the next incident could happen. I pray that we never see this locally, but if we do, I feel better knowing that our dispatchers have the proper training.”

Minder said it was nice to see so many area 911 and police departments get into the act by sending their dispatchers to join in the class.

“We plan to continue to offer specialized trainings such as this to our dispatchers so that they have the proper tools to protect the safety our residents and responders,” Minder said.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com