ABSTRACT

In 2019, of all of U.S. states/territories, only twelve require the Emergency Communications Officer (ECO) to meet hiring (character) standards, only twenty-nine require basic training standards, only twenty-three require continuing-education standards, and only twenty-four require use of pre-arrival medical instruction protocols. Furthermore, the federal government misclassifies the profession within its Office and Administrative Support occupational grouping, as opposed to the Protective Service occupational grouping. There is substantial evidence of 9-1-1 failures in professionalism and proficiency, nationwide. This thesis seeks to answer the question: How could the nation’s 9-1-1 system—specifically its ECO occupation—evolve to address problems and maximize advantages to public safety and homeland security? It is a policy analysis but includes some qualitative analysis. Professionalization and standardization need to occur within the system, beginning with an accurate occupational classification. Increased compensation commensurate with the work performed is also needed, and that should be accompanied with mandated hiring, basic training and certification standards, and requirements in the use of pre-arrival medical instruction protocols. Lastly, a termination of all jurisdictional misappropriation of 9-1-1 fees, updated and sustainable funding streams, and adequate investment in technological enhancements necessary to improve the system’s efficiency, proficiency, redundancy, and resiliency need to occur.

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