Idaho to propose legislation to enact minimum training guidelines, certification for telecommunicators

I was browsing Facebook the other day when I came upon the post below from the Denise Amber Lee Foundation. For those of you who are not familiar with the Denise Amber Lee story – 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. The Denise Amber Lee story has been a driving force behind the movements to implement a consistent QA/QI standard nationwide, and to establish recommended training guidelines for 9-1-1 telecommunicators.


Following the effort championed by NENA and other members of the Minimum Training Guidelines Working Group, it’s great to see that Idaho is leading the way, and pressing for standards for telecommunicators. I strongly hope that more states will follow suit. The fact of the matter is – many industries have training standards that must be met (OSHA for workplace safety, for example). It’s hard to imagine any reasonable excuse for not wanting standardized training for a job as vital as handling 9-1-1 calls. When citizens dial 9-1-1, they need to know that the same level of life-saving service will be on the other side of the line, no matter where they’re calling from.

It was for this reason that a group of 9-1-1 authorities, training coordinators, standards organizations and industry training professionals (the Minimum Training Guidelines Working Group) came together in 2013 to develop training standards. The goal was to create a set of nationally recognized, universally accepted minimum training topics that could be used to train all telecommunicators. The culmination of this three-year effort was the Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines for Telecommunicators. (Download the Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines and other helpful related documents here.)

“I am not aware of any state that has adopted the Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines through a legislative mandate yet,” said Mark Lee of the Denise Amber Lee Foundation. “But interest in the guidelines is growing. We‘ve heard from several states that are gearing up for the upcoming legislative season and using these guidelines for their legislation. We have also heard from several states that have mandatory training, Florida included, that are comparing their guidelines with these.”

If, as the Boise County Connection news story reports, Idaho makes good on its plan to introduce  legislation to establish a state-wide, mandatory 9-1-1 dispatcher certification and training requirement during the 2017 Legislative Session, it will be one of the first states to do so. If passed, the legislation, which would become effective July 1, 2017, would mandate training and certification for all Idaho 9-1-1 centers. Telecommunicators would be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours academy or online training in basic emergency dispatching, and a biennial minimum of 40 hours of continuing education.

The effort to formalize training standards and certification in Idaho was spearheaded by the Idaho PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) Standards & Training Committee, because, as the article points out in part: “There should be a compelling demand that those rendering life and death instructions to panic stricken callers, police officers and others be properly credentialed and trained.” At NICE, we couldn’t agree more.

Want to learn more about the new Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines for 911 Telecommunicators? The National 911 Program will present a webinar and questions and answer session, on next Tuesday, December 13, from 12 to 1pm Eastern Time. Mr. Jamison Peevyhouse, Director of Weakley County (TN) 911 and Emergency Management and Mr. Ty Wooten, Education Director, National Emergency Number Association will provide: an overview of the Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines; insights on status of implementations; lessons learned from implementations; and information on advocacy tools for legislative initiatives. Click here to register.

Earlier this year NICE hosted a separate webinar on this very same topic with the Denise Amber Lee Foundation. You can view that recorded educational webinar here or by clicking on the image below.


As a corollary to the Guidelines, the Working Group has also produced a legislative advocacy package to help states without training legislation. The intention was to provide a toolbox that entities could use to pursue legislation in states that currently do not have statutes that ensure minimum training for telecommunicators. In those states that do have statutes, the Model Legislation package can be used as a baseline to ensure that the recommended minimum training topics are being covered. The Model Legislation can be used as the starting point for crafting your own individual state legislation. You can access the Model Legislation on the Denise Amber Lee Foundation website here.

If you have questions regarding the Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines or the Model Legislation Advocacy Packet, I encourage you to email You can also reach out to Mark Lee at the Denise Amber Lee Foundation at for more information.


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