Eighteen Kentucky State Police telecommunicators from throughout the commonwealth, including Angel Smith, from Ulvah in Letcher County, were recognized recently at graduation ceremonies for the twelfth class of the agency’s in-house telecommunications academy.
Lt. Col. Jeremy Slinker, KSP operations division director, congratulated the graduates on their achievement and highlighted the critical role of dispatchers. “You have the important job of taking the first call, knowing what to do with it and getting the information to the right person or agency,” he told them.
A former dispatcher himself at the beginning of his 25-year law enforcement career, Slinker said he attributes his success partly to the challenges he faced in the position and the work ethic he developed. “It takes a special type of person, but it is an admirable and honorable career. There are personal sacrifices involved, but there are also rewards from helping people and saving lives.”
Representing eight agency posts, the group began its studies on April 16, 2018 at the KSP Training Academy in Frankfort. The course provided 236 hours of instruction during a six-week period. The curriculum included subjects such as: legal liability, limits of telecommunicator authority, the telecommunicator’s role in public safety, interpersonal communications, customer service, interaction with the news media, stress, ethics and confidentiality, responder safety, basic fire dispatch, state emergency operations plans, criminal justice information systems, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, first aid training, emergency medical dispatch and special needs callers.
To complete the course, the telecommunicators were required to successfully process scripted calls for service and demonstrate proficiency in obtaining pertinent information, dispatching responders, providing emergency medical dispatch if needed and correctly documenting information from the call for service. This training is completed using a computer simulation system to simulate their working environment in the radio room.
The graduates of the twelfth KSP Telecommunications Academy included:
Tonya Whitehair Post 1 Mayfield
James Smock II Post 1 Mayfield
Jerry David Brandon Post 1 Mayfield
Raymond Hutchins Post 3 Bowling Green
Jamie Gann Post 3 Bowling Green
Matthew Stephens Post 3 Bowling Green
Shelby Grant Post 5 Campbellsburg
Andrea Jaehnigen Post 5 Campbellsburg
Cahli Simpson Post 6 Dry Ridge
Kelly Maze Post 8 Morehead
Jacob Paul Glover Post 8 Morehead
Devin Patty Post 12 Frankfort
William Watts Post 12 Frankfort
Dylan Baker Post 13 Hazard
Cody Napier Post 13 Hazard
Christopher Taylor Post 13 Hazard
Angel Smith Post 13 Hazard
Jacob Arrowood Post 14 Ashland
Kelly Maze of Post 8 in Morehead was the class valedictorian with an overall grade point average of 97.4 percent.
According to Jason Long, Law Enforcement Training Instructor at the Kentucky State Police Academy, working in today’s emergency services communications center requires a number of qualities and characteristics that are absolutely imperative including:
●the ability to handle very stressful, challenging conditions
●flexible work schedules
●empathy in dealing with others
●the ability to learn and adapt, especially in areas of technology.
His advice to those who may be considering the field as a career? “You need to think hard about whether you are willing to make the sacrifices you have to make. You have to spend time away from your family. You have to work weekends and holidays. With all the continuing training required, there is a big investment of time and you need to be sure you can make the commitment.”
“To be honest, it’s not a job for everyone,” he says. “It is stressful and challenging and some people simply can’t deal with the types of calls and deadly incidents that we have to handle.”
Pictured: Kentucky State Police Hazard Post 13 Telecommunicators graduating from Class No. 12 are from left to right: Dylan Baker, Jackson, KY; Cody Napier, Hazard, KY; Angel Smith, Ulvah,KY and Christopher Taylor, Hindman, KY.