The Richmond Register

April 10, 2013

Police telecommunicator: It’s not a job for everyone

Special to the Register

RICHMOND — According to Charlotte Tanner, training coordinator for Kentucky State Police telecommunicators, working in today’s emergency services communications center requires a number of qualities and characteristics that are absolutely imperative.

“One, a person must be able to work under very stressful, challenging conditions. They have to be able to deal with a roller coaster ride of very serious calls coming in and then routine calls and back to very serious calls with very little notice,” Tanner said.

They must also be flexible with their time, she said.

“Our personnel have to staff the communications center 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Tanner said. “It requires them to be away from their families a lot. It requires them to give up some social gatherings they probably would like to be attending. They must be dependable, reliable and be where we need them when we need them. We have to be able to count on them.”

“They must have empathy,” she continued. “They need to have empathy for what people are experiencing when they call in. We deal a lot with children and our personnel need to be able to adjust how they handle a call based upon the person they are talking to.”

Technology plays a big role, she said.

“The technology we use in our communications center is something that is changing every day. Our people have to be able to stay current. They must be able to learn and adapt as the job dictates.”

Her advice to those who may be considering the field as a career?

“You need to think very long and hard about whether you are willing to make the sacrifices you have to make,” Tanner said. “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,” Tanner said. “It is stressful and challenging and some people simple can’t deal with the types of calls and the types of deadly incidents that we have to handle.”