Open Menu

Emergency Communications Director Praises Telecommunications Degree Program

Apr 9

April 9, 2024 - Emergency Communications Director of Chatham County Michael Reitz enrolled in Richmond Community College’s new associate degree program for telecommunicators last fall, and he is already seeing the benefits of the training.Emergency Communications Director Michael Reitz stands in the Chatham County command center.

“It has helped me manage my department more effectively, whether it's a personnel issue that needs to be addressed or managing a multi-million-dollar project. Additionally, interacting with my fellow classmates gives additional insights into how others handle similar situations,” Reitz said. “We're all in this together, and we can learn so much from each other.”

The associate degree in 911 Communications & Operations is offered 100 percent online, so Reitz, who lives in Pittsboro, can take the program at RichmondCC.

“I enrolled because I wanted to support the program and help spread the word about this opportunity for the 911 professionals across our state, and beyond,” Reitz said.

The online degree program was developed by RichmondCC in conjunction with the N.C. 911 Board and the N.C. Department of Information Technology to provide standardized training in 911 telecommunications. Telecommunicators work with local government emergency communications centers, county sheriffs’ offices, local law enforcement, fire and EMS agencies, and emergency management and related emergency dispatch operations.

“There is a lot to learn in our profession, and this degree can help prepare individuals to move up the career ladder,” Reitz said.

As Emergency Communications Director, Reitz is responsible for the 911 centers in Chatham County, which includes the primary emergency communications center and a dedicated, standalone backup emergency communications center. 

“My department is also responsible for the public safety radio system in the county, as well as a host of other projects and responsibilities,” Reitz said. “There is never a dull moment around here.”

Reitz has worked as a firefighter, EMT, public safety diver and swift-water rescue technician, but he said working in 911 has been a unique and very rewarding profession for him. 

“Helping people is the goal of all public safety professionals, but it takes a special person to be able to work in the 911 center,” he said. “Those in the 911 profession often say, ‘We are the clam voice in the dark.’ We are often unseen but heard every day.”  

Reitz is on track to graduate from the 911 Communications & Operations program in May 2025.

RichmondCC has partnered with nine other community colleges across North Carolina to make the 911 degree program available to their students. These regional students will complete a majority of the core courses and the work-based learning portion of the program through RichmondCC, while completing other general education requirements at their home community college.

“By collaborating with these colleges, we are making the most of our resources to bring vital career training to many rural communities of North Carolina,” said Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RichmondCC.

To learn more about RichmondCC’s 911 Communications & Operations program, call (910) 410-1700. RichmondCC is registering students for summer classes, plus the whole 2024-2025 academic year! The first step to the registration process is completing a free application: Apply Here