Celebrating Telecommunicators Series: Preparing for Multimedia Use

Author: Josh Black, Joint SAFECOM-NCSWIC NG911 Working Group Federal Lead, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

As CISA continues to celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NPSTW), and Emergency Communications Month, it is an opportunity to recognize telecommunications personnel and their dedication, hard work, and commitment to excellence. CISA salutes those professionals and honors the work they do, every day.

As a part of Next Generation 911 (NG911) transition, emergency communications centers (ECCs)/ public safety answering points (PSAPs) are taking steps to update their systems to receive multimedia (e.g., photos, videos, text messages). Telecommunicators may need to analyze multimedia during voice calls, as well as communicate using nonverbal communication through text messaging. Consumption of these images can induce additional stress and vicarious trauma on personnel. These additional elements should be taken into consideration when implementing new capabilities and assessing policies and resources available to support staff wellness.

To address the new technology and wellness challenges, CISA, through trusted partnerships with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators  (NCSIC) developed an NG911 Incident-Related Imagery Impacts 101. This document provides public safety and emergency communications leadership with considerations for addressing incident-related imagery, such as establishing data management policies and procedures, assessing training and educational requirements, supporting staff wellness, and assessing recruitment and retention polices. Public safety stakeholders can use this document to familiarize themselves with emerging technologies in 911 centers and help plan for incident-related imagery.

CISA has also implemented webinars designed to help public safety organizations improve their emergency communications capabilities through the implementation of the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). The NECP is the Nation’s strategic plan to strengthen and enhance emergency communications capabilities. In March 2021, CISA hosted a NECP webinar, Train and Exercise to Help Public Safety Personnel Overcome Information Overload, Stress, and Trauma, to help ECCs/PSAPs incorporate human factors into training and exercises to help prepare for the demands that voice, video, and data information can place on public safety professionals.

We are truly honored to celebrate NPSTW with you and recognize our nation’s telecommunicators. I want to thank all our partners. CISA stands ready to support the needs of the 911 community and we thank you for your service.

For more information on CISA’s 911 initiatives, please visit the SAFECOM NG911 web page or email ng911wg@cisa.dhs.gov.