Public Safety Telecommunicator Code of Ethics

As a Public Safety Telecommunicator, I am dedicated to serve the public; to safeguard life and property; to keep my personnel informed on all calls that may require their attention; to assist all public safety vehicles and personnel in the performance of their duties; assure that all rules and regulations which govern my position are not violated in any manner.

I will keep my private and social life free from all criticism; maintain a calm attitude during times of stress and emergencies; develop self-control and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others, regardless of race, creed, or religion. I will obey the laws of the land, rules, and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission and my department. Whatever information I receive of a confidential nature will be revealed only in the official performance of my duties.

I will never act in a selfish or unofficial manner or let my personal feelings, friendships, prejudices or animosity influence my decisions. I will enforce the rules and regulations of my department and the Federal Communications Commission without fear, favor or ill will, never employing unnecessary force and never accepting gratuities.

I recognize the high responsibility of my position as a symbol of public faith and trust and will accept it to be held as long as I am faithful to the ethics of public safety service. I will constantly strive to achieve those objectives and ideals, which govern my profession, dedicating myself, before God, to my chosen profession, public safety telecommunications.

Author: Evert E. Carter, Chief Dispatcher
Williamson County Sheriff’s Department
Marion, Illinois 1981

Project 43: Broadband Implications for the PSAP

Leverage Existing Technologies and Prepare for Evolving Broadband Communications

The goal of Project 43 is to help public safety telecommunicators, PSAPs, PSAP directors, 9-1-1 authorities, elected and appointed officials, and others in the public safety community better leverage existing technology capabilities and prepare for the evolving broadband communications technologies that will impact PSAP operations and, at the same time, improve support to field responders.

This report is the outgrowth of the work of nearly 80 member practitioners assisted by APCO professional staff arrayed across several working groups focused on the following major topical areas: operations, governance, cybersecurity, technology, training, and workforce. Each working group consisted of experienced public safety and industry professionals who met regularly over the course of a year.


Improve Your Agency’s Call Taking and Dispatching

APCO Guidecards improve your agency’s call taking and dispatching by providing rapid and consistent instructions customized to meet your agency’s needs and resources. They give telecommunicators ready access to precise information for specific call types and provide call handling techniques — which means your callers get the fast, consistent and appropriate information they need and expect in an emergency.

APCO Guidecards are specialized for emergency medical dispatch (EMD)fire service and law enforcement, and are available as racks or binders.

EMD Guidecards

EMD Guidecards are only available in conjunction with a complete implementation of the APCO Institute EMD Program. The implementation process includes customization to meet your agency’s needs and training of all dispatch personnel.

APCO Institute EMD Guidecards provide EMDs with the tools they need to properly prioritize the response level of a call and to provide pre-arrival instructions to the caller.

Fire Service Dispatch Guidecards

Fire Service Dispatch Guidecards provide agencies with guidecards for the triaging and dispatching of fire service-related emergency calls, customized to match the needs and resources of the individual agency. They use the fire service-specific information and call handling techniques taught in the APCO Institute’s Fire Service Communications training course and incorporate information provided by subject matter experts from the fire service and the public safety communications industry.


Law Enforcement Dispatch Guidecards

The APCO Law Enforcement Dispatch Guidecards provide agencies with guidecards for the triaging and dispatching of law enforcement-related emergency calls, and are customized to match the needs and resources of the individual agency.

The Law Enforcement Dispatch Guidecards use law enforcement-specific information and call handling techniques taught in the APCO Institute’s Public Safety Telecommunicator and  Law Enforcement Communications training courses. These incorporate information provided by subject matter experts in the law enforcement and public safety communications industry.

Examples of Guidecards

Learn More or Schedule a Demo

For more information or to schedule a demo of APCO’s Guidecards, please provide us with your contact information below so we can connect.

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For pricing and customization information, contact the APCO Sales Coordinator at [email protected] or (386) 322-2500.

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Candidate Standard for Career Progression Within the Public Safety Emergency Communications Center

Comment & Review Period: March 17 – May 1, 2023
This document addresses the significant need for the concept of career progression to be established as a guide to create, legitimize and instruct agencies and their respective employees on how to develop career pathways for all personnel. The standard endeavors to provide agencies with information inclusive of titles, duties, skills, and categories for the purpose of defining operational and administrative pathways for employees to consider for their potential career advancement.

1.103.3-2022 Wireless 9-1-1 Deployment and Management Effective Practices Guide

This revision is intended to support every reasonable effort by current ECC Managers to proactively manage public and responder expectations at the local level; support a positive working relationship with the wireless service providers founded on a fundamental understanding of the operational parameters of all wireless E9-1-1 service; along with influencing public policy, including regulatory and legislative action. The ECC Manager should also define, develop, and promulgate performance focused ECC training, maintain active quality assurance efforts, and understand the relationship between these actions and field responder efficiency and safety.

Managing Operational Overload in the ECC

This standard seeks to serve as a guiding document to assist ECC staff in their efforts to prepare for a multitude of events as they create pre-planning and mitigation documents. This document alone is not meant to serve as a substitute to an individual agency’s plans. It is meant to be thought-provoking and should foster discussion and development of agency specific policy and procedure.

Crisis Intervention Techniques & Call Handling Procedures for PST

Public Safety Telecommunicators (PSTs) are typically the first layer of response to crisis-based calls and can serve as the initial layer of de-escalation attempts. PST’s must manage a wide range of emergency calls, often involving a variety of behavioral health disorders and conditions. Throughout Emergency Communications Centers there is a demand for skills associated with handling such calls in an appropriate, calming, and professional manner. To reflect the requests and needs for such improvement, APCO has published this standard, which provides a fundamental tool for PSTs. In practice, this standard is written to provide fundamental strategies and responsibilities for the agency, a brief understanding of behavioral health, PST responsibilities, and stress management for the PST. This standard provides procedures and techniques for improved responses for PSTs while handling a call involving a person in crisis.

Public Safety Telecommunicator Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Program

Over the past generation, our industry has seen myriad changes in the way it operates, is structured, and the way personnel are trained. We have evolved out of necessity to keep pace with our technology driven world as our informational highways and capabilities become larger and faster. This constant evolution has placed new and unforeseen stressors of many natures on our public safety telecommunications personnel, and will continue to do so especially with the advent of visual technology arriving at 9-1-1 consoles in real time every day. These changes, along with the critical need of ensuring the mental health and well-being of all our PST personnel, are the touchstone for the creation of this standard.

It is inherent in the document that from agency to agency there may be nuanced differences impacted by State, County, or Local Laws as well as agency specific policies and procedures. Those differences notwithstanding, from a conceptual standpoint the information contained within the document should give any end-user public safety agency a well-defined blueprint for establishing the critical operational need in protecting the overall mental, physical and emotional well-being of our Public Safety Telecommunicators.

Minimum Operational Standards for the Use ofTTY/TDD or Similar Device in the Public Safety Communications Center

American with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulation requires 9-1-1 and other telephone emergency service providers to provide TTY/TDD users with direct access and an opportunity to benefit from the emergency services that is equal to the opportunity afforded to others. Many of the citizens that are protected by ADA communicate via texting and expect to do the same with a PSCC or PSAP. State and local agencies are being legally directed to identify methods to accept these text messages and must keep up with the citizen’s expectations.

Responding to Calls of Missing, Abducted and Sexually Exploited Children

The revision of this standard is designed to serve as best practice guidelines and operational models in support of effectively and efficiently processing these calls for service as well as identifying resources available to telecommunicators and law enforcement. This standard presents the response process in a logical progression from initial call intake through comprehensive data and information management.

Public Safety Communications Center Key Performance Indicators

The goal of this standard is to provide fundamental key performance indicators (KPIs) inherent in all ECC work, regardless of size, services, or location. It also provides a list of conditions that allow agencies to further refine performance analysis and management, if applicable to its needs. The standard approaches this topic by designating mandatory KPIs applicable to all ECC environments; documenting conditional measures that allow for more detailed root-cause analysis; and identifying data elements necessary to complete the KPI.

PSC Common Status Codes for Data Exchange

This standard provides a standardized list of status codes that can be used by emergency communications and public safety stakeholders when sharing incident related information. Rather than changing their codes internally, each agency should map their internal codes to the standardized list. The agency is responsible for identifying how to map or translate their agency-specific status codes to the common status codes to ensure a clear understanding of the data that is being passed.

Best Practices for ECCs When Processing Vehicle Telematics Calls from Telematics Service Providers

Telematics data provides an opportunity for public safety agencies to dispatch more efficiently, based on crash notification elements and specific crash data. Law enforcement agencies, working in correlation with telematics call centers, are able to work together to assist in the location of missing people, recovery of stolen vehicles and vehicle slow down to stop vehicles involved in criminal activity. In emergency situations, effective communication between the telematics call center and the local ECC is critical.

PSC Incident Handling Process

This standard defines the recommended minimum steps and decision-making processes for the handling of public safety requests for service (referred to as “incident”). It defines the process for handling an incident by the emergency communications center from the initial report through the disposition of the incident. The initial report may come from various sources but starts with the delivery mechanism, continues with the triage of the request for service, the documentation and dissemination of information, and point of closure for the incident.

Multi-Functional Multi-Discipline Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Minimum Functional Requirements

This standard identifies the minimum functional requirements that a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system shall include, broken down by public safety discipline. Also identified are the optional functional requirements that a CAD system should include. Attachment A: the Unified CAD Functional Requirements (UCADFR) provides a comprehensive list of functional requirements for CAD systems that may be used by public safety communications centers to assist with the request for proposal (RFP) process when they need to conduct a solicitation for a new CAD system or an upgrade to an existing CAD system.

Standard Channel Nomenclature for the Public Safety Interoperability Channels

Standard nomenclature for FCC and NTIA-designated nationwide interoperability channels used for public safety voice communications. The public safety community uses spectrum allocated by the FCC and NTIA in multiple bands that is replete with interoperability channels. It is necessary to develop and employ a common set of channel names so that all responders to an incident know which channel to tune their radios to, as well as the band and primary use for the channel.

ECC Service Capability Criteria Rating Scale

This standard is intended to assist Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Managers and their governing authorities to identify their current level of service capability. An assessment tool is provided to objectively assess capabilities of the PSAP against models representing different levels of preparedness, survivability and sustainability amidst a wide range of natural and man-made events. The second version includes the addition of “Day-to-Day” operations service capability criteria items and updates to “Survivability” items based upon lessons learned in the field since the original publication.

Core Competencies, Operational Factors, and Training for Next Generation Technologies in Public Safety Communications

This standard provides PSAP managers, personnel, and technologists with a guide to begin preparation to accept and utilize this data. It outlines additional training that will be needed by telecommunicators who have traditionally made decisions based primarily on voice conversations, as well as the corresponding policies agencies must develop. With the opportunity to utilize streaming video, telecommunicators will potentially be able to visually determine the number and type of responders to dispatch to a scene, provide additional information regarding a fire scene and provide details often overlooked by voice communications, such as a gun on a shelf during a domestic violence incident.

Common Incident Disposition Codes for Data Exchange

Disposition codes are used by ECCs and public safety to identify the outcome of an event (incidents). These codes typically involve the use of numeric, alpha or alphanumeric characters that are only meaningful to a specific agency or region. This standard provides a list of common disposition codes for use by PSAPs and public safety when sharing incident information with disparate agencies and authorized stakeholders.

Best Practices for the Use of Social Media in Public Safety Communications

Social media is a common form of communication used by agencies and agency employees. This candidate standard provides guidance on the use of social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) for developing specific local procedures. The purpose of this candidate standard is to provide a consistent foundation for agencies to develop specific operational procedures and competencies while recognizing the need for each agency to customize specific procedures to their local environment.

Standards Review & Comment

APCO’s standards development process allows anyone to participate and uses due process through consensus-based, open and balanced procedures. Each draft candidate standard is open for public review and comment for a 45-day period. Any person (e.g., organization, company, government agency, individual, etc.) with a direct and material interest has a right to participate by:

  • Expressing a position and its basis
  • Having that position considered
  • Having the right to appeal

All comments will be addressed by the standards working group.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or need for specific standards, please submit them for APCO’s review to [email protected] or call the Standards Program Manager at (469) 424-7599.