Open Menu

Over 50 Students Enroll in First Online 911 Telecommunications Class

Jan 17

Jan. 17, 2024 - Richmond Community College accepted over 50 online students from across the state into the first 911 Communications & Operations class that began last fall semester in August.Online students on a computer screen

“I think the creation of the program is an excellent way to expose more people to a career in 911 Communications, especially at a point where so many centers are experiencing staffing issues,” said Joseph Poole, who is a student in the program. “It is a great way to draw in more people, and it also gives current telecommunicators another way to expand their knowledge in the field while earning a degree at the same time. It has been a great experience so far.”

Poole is a dispatcher with the Gaston County Police Department.

The associate degree program was developed when the NC 911 Board reached out to RichmondCC about a need for standardization in training 911 telecommunicators, plus a need to help elevate this career field. The college worked closely with the NC 911 Board and the NC Department of Information Technology to construct the online program.

“I’m really excited about this program, which is long overdue for those heroes under the headset and future heroes,” said Donna Wright, who serves as an instructor for the 911 program at RichmondCC. “I am honored to have been part of the team that made this program come to fruition and even more honored to teach in the curriculum. I’m excited to see the growth of not only this amazing program but the amazing skills of these students.”

Kayla Mullins is among the first students to enroll in the program. She is a training specialist with Lincoln County E-911.

“This program brings attention to a career that is struggling to find those perfect people with the perfect skill set to excel. With knowledge and understanding from the one-of-a-kind 911 Communications & Operations Program offered at RichmondCC, more people will be ready to join 911 centers across the state and aid in providing the best care for citizens and responders,” Mullins said.

Despite the vital and diverse role 911 telecommunicators play, they often lack support for further education.  

“When people think of Emergency Services and Public Safety, they think of police, fire, EMS, and emergency management. 911 is the vital link between all services and is the ‘first’ first responder,” Mullins said. “We are educated and trained to offer lifesaving instructions to those in need and offer risk mitigation via phone while simultaneously painting a picture to the responders enroute. We are logistics and resource coordinators, negotiators, detectives, and planners, just to name a few hats, all wrapped into one.”

Wendy Westmoreland is a 911 telecommunications supervisor with the Gaston County Police Department. She also enrolled in the 911 Communications & Operations program this fall and is really enjoying the course.

“I feel that this is a program that has been needed for some time now. I know for some of us in the industry there are some repeats of things we already should know. However, everyone can do with a refresher,” Westmoreland said.

RichmondCC is also partnering with community colleges across the state to expand the reach of the program to other communities in need of training in this career field. RichmondCC is in the process of working with 11 other community colleges to open up the 911 Communication & Operations associate degree program to their students.

“With a specialized program like this being offered in rural North Carolina, our goal is to come together to build up our collective strengths to build a really strong program that can help everyone across the state, rather than duplicate and replicate unnecessarily,” said Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RichmondCC.