Nine One One operators in Florida will have to undergo extensive new training after July 1st. The legislation requiring 232 hours of training was the direct result of a Southwest Florida case in which operators bungled the pleas of a kidnapped woman, and ignored calls from a concerned driver.
Denise Amber Lee was kidnapped in 2008. Astonishingly, she was able to use her cell phone to call 9-1-1. But 911 operators failed to respond and they ignored the call of a passing motorist who saw Denise in the kidnapper’s car.
The young woman’s family spent two years walking the Capitol hallways to pass training legislation. Now, by October 2012, every 911 operator will need 232 hours of training.
Until now the training has been basically on the job, fragmented and voluntary. Friday, these 12 dual enrolled high school seniors graduated from one of the states police academy’s. Their training will certify them as 9-1-1 telecommunications operators under the new law.
Even as graduates, their instructor Kim NeSmith says they will be required to take 20 hours of refresher courses every two years.
“So it’s going to be an ongoing process to make sure that they are current so that they can provide the best support.”
The only exception to the additional training is someone who already has five years experience, but they must apply for certification before October 2012. The increased training costs will be paid for from an existing 50 cent monthly fee, already collected on phones bills.