FCC Recommendations for Public Safety Answering Points

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, under the general supervision of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published its recommendations for improving the nations’ Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) call centers. These include:

  1. All PSAPs should have comprehensive plans in place that address the daily operations of the call center and address emergencies and how it coordinated with other PSAPs. To do so, PSAP directors should:

    1. Ensure that they obtain a commitment from all communications providers
    2. Implement exercises, plans and procedures that deal with large disasters that disrupt communications
    3. Plan for events that involve the loss of communications and those where communication is left intact
    4. Plan for increase call volumes during large-scale disasters and catastrophes, which includes ensuring that the PSAP has adequate facilities, equipment and personnel to handle massive call volume situations
    5. Develop mutual aid plans for disasters that occur over large, geographical areas
  2. All plans and procedures should be practiced on a routine basis and updated as new information is gained and lessons are learned. All training exercises should be of a realistic nature and should challenge many different types of emergency situations. To do so, PSAP directors should ensure that they receive written commitments from communications providers, which include points of contact, staging points, and the services and resources provided.
  3. PSAP equipment and procedures should be standard across all levels (local, state, regional and federal) as to facilitate mutual aid and the emergency services. To do so, PSAP directors should:

    1. Use staff from PSAPs to relieve understaffed PSAPs
    2. Develop a standardized checklist that is to be used to respond to emergencies; the checklist should include how to address the needs of the hard-of-hearing and the deaf
  4. PSAPs should always be accessible to all citizens, including those with speech and hearing difficulties. To do so, PSAP directors should:

    1. Ensure that all emergency dispatchers can handle Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) calls made by people with hearing and speech disabilities
    2. Develop a standard checklist of standard operating procedures to handle callers with hearing and speech disabilities
  5. PSAPs should learn by studying the best practices of industry call centers. To do so, PSAP directors should:

    1. Pay close attention to the strategies used by large commercial companies that operate call centers when balancing calls among multiple call centers

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