This April marks the one-year anniversary since
APCO introduced the
new standard for Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement for PSAPs (APCO/NENA ANS 126.96.36.1995). The idea behind the initiative was to “establish a long overdue quality assurance and improvement process for all of America’s 9-1-1 PSAPs and their telecommunicators to ensure call taking and radio dispatch actions are delivered at the highest possible standard.” The foreword to the APCO/NENA standard document aptly points out that all of the training in the world is useless without consistent standards, and ongoing monitoring and reinforcement to make sure proper procedures and protocols are being followed.
The standard was the result of years of hard work on the part of the NENA Development Standards Committee Quality Assurance Working Group, which was chaired by Eric Parry, ENP, and supported by many experts within the public safety community, as well as Mark Lee, father-in-law to
Denise Amber Lee, a woman who was brutally murdered in 2008.
Perhaps no story illustrates more poignantly the critical need for 9-1-1 quality assurance and a quality improvement program than that of Denise Amber Lee.
On January 17, 2008, Denise was abducted from her home in North Port, Florida. In the hours that followed, Denise managed to dial 9-1-1 using her captor’s cell phone. At least four other calls to 9-1-1 were placed, one from her distraught husband and three from eyewitnesses. But despite all the calls, no help was ever dispatched.
According to Eric Parry, the Denise Amber Lee story was a driving motivation to implement a consistent QA/QI standard nationwide. “The long and short of it is there were some mistakes made and as a result of those mistakes it became glaringly obvious that we needed, as a profession, to take some responsibility and do something about promoting a quality assurance and improvement program throughout the industry.”
Parry, who currently serves as Program Manager of the State of Utah 911 Division, spoke on this same subject during a recent
NENA training QA/QI webinar hosted by NICE Systems. Another featured speaker was Sherrill Ornberg, ENP, RPL, who collaborated with Parry, ENP, on the Quality Assurance Working Group, and along with Parry is a member of the Denise Amber Lee Foundation’s Board of Directors.
“I come to the table with 46 years in public safety,” said Parry. “I could see very early on in my career that there were bits and pieces missing. Typically the process of call review and what we did wrong would come after a horrible mistake was made. This standard is about enabling our people to be the best that they can be, and doing the job correctly right from the beginning, from the call intake to the call dispatch.”
Parry explained that one of the things that sets the
new standard apart is that it embraces QA for all types of calls (police, fire and EMS), and for the entire call-taking process. “Typically quality assurance programs that are out there and commercially available cover the call intake piece. What we decided to do here is cover the whole thing – stern to stern. So, we not only have processes in place for evaluating the three types of disciplines that come into our 9-1-1 centers, we also have evaluation templates for the dispatch piece as well.”
Ornberg agrees this is critical. “It isn’t just the call-taking in the Denise Amber Lee tragedy, it was the dispatch portion that was missing,” she said.
Ornberg, who consults with PSAPs on their QA programs and also serves as the Denise Amber Lee Foundation’s quality assurance director, shared lots of valuable advice and guidelines for PSAPs to get onboard with the new standard and get their QA/QI programs off the ground during the recent
NENA training webinar.
If you’re interested in learning more, simply
follow this link or click on the image below to register to play back the on-demand training webinar, free of charge. We also invite you to
download our 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Best Practices e-Book.
This webinar on
Effective Implementation of the Public Safety QA/QI standard was the second in a series of educational webinars that NICE will be hosting for emergency communications forward-thinkers.
Please check our Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Hot Topic Webinar page often to see what other webinars are coming up. And if you have a suggestion for a future webinar topic,
we’d love to hear from you!