The Lakeland Police Department’s Public Safety Communications Center is the primary 9-1-1 public safety answering point for the City of Lakeland. All 9-1-1 calls from within the city, including landline and wireless phone calls, are automatically routed to the Communications Center for processing. Certified Emergency Communications Specialists are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to handle 9-1-1 and all other calls, including less critical non-emergency calls, to determine the nature of an emergency and what resources are needed to assist.
The Public Safety Communications Center provides dispatch services for the Lakeland Police and Lakeland Fire Departments, as well as coordinating with the Polk County Fire Rescue to request ambulances for medical emergencies. The highly trained Emergency Communications Specialists are certified by the State of Florida and receive ongoing training throughout the year to maintain their certification.
The Communications Center averages 6,500 incoming 9-1-1 calls per month, in addition to nearly 21,000 monthly administrative or non-emergency calls making their way through the Center. These calls may range from a medical emergency to someone who is the victim of a vicious crime, to the depressed individual who needs someone to talk to at the moment.
Emergency Communications Specialists are the first responders to an emergency situation when they handle the initial call for help and deal with callers who are confused, angry, frightened, or hysterical. Through a calm demeanor and specific approach to call handling, these specialists utilize their training to get help enroute quickly and provide assistance before the first units arrive on scene.
New Communications Specialists undergo an extensive eight month training program to learn the skills necessary to handle 9-1-1 calls, conduct police dispatch and fire dispatch operations, and learn the computer software that is an essential part of daily operations in the Communications Center. While the State of Florida only requires 232 hours of public safety telecommunicator training, the Department mandates over 1,100 hours of training before a Communications Specialist is released from training.
During the training program, members must demonstrate proficiency in multi-tasking, including active listening, interviewing callers, dispatching resources as needed to multiple calls for service at any given moment, entering information into the computer-aided dispatch system, and maintaining overall situational awareness of active calls for service throughout the community.
The job of a public safety telecommunicator is challenging and stressful. Not everyone can do this line of work, but many find this to be a personally rewarding career in public safety.