Award Date


Degree Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Public Administration

First Committee Member

William Thompson, Chair

Second Committee Member

Chris Stream

Third Committee Member

Richard Sutton

Fourth Committee Member

Helen Neill

Number of Pages



The 911 Public Safety Communications Specialist, operator, call taker, dispatcher, or whatever title these behind-the-scenes professionals operate under, they are indeed, the first public safety responder. Whether it is for police protection during criminal activity, fire extinguishment to save a burning house and rescue the victims, or paramedic treatment to remediate a life-threatening medical incident, the first contact the vast majority of these callers will have is with the 911 System.

Dr. Jeff Clawson, president of the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch, and creator of the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) first coined the term “first, first responder”1 to describe the role of the Communications Specialist. With this in mind, why would a public safety communications center ever have to worry about its staffing level?

As hard as it may seem to believe, communications centers regularly have staffing problems. The main reason identified throughout the paper is the lack of national standards for staffing these centers. Fire and Police departments are rated by several agencies on their ability to respond quickly to emergency situations. This paper investigated some of the reasons why communications centers must be adequately staffed, efforts to attain and maintain adequate staffing levels, the lack of national standards for communications center staffing, and the recommendation for the establishment of staffing standards that can be used by any communications center.


Call centers – Employees; Emergency communication systems; Fire dispatchers; First responders; Police dispatchers


Human Resources Management | Organizational Communication | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Affairs | Public Policy

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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