The Nova Scotia RCMP have a new Operational Communications Centre (OCC) to support employees as they help those in need.
After more than three years of planning, the new OCC at the RCMP's provincial headquarters in Dartmouth started answering 911 calls in late February.
The new space, which replaced the former centre in Truro, features state-of-the-art technology, and facilities to support employees – call takers who answer the 911 calls and dispatchers who communicate with first responders.
Teamwork is a major component of effective dispatch during emergency situations, and this new space puts the call takers and dispatchers in one room so we can communicate more quickly and freely," says Shayna Currie, who's been a telecommunications operator for almost 12 years.
The open-concept office and multiple large displays throughout the room improves situational awareness among the telecommunications operators.
New mapping technologies also help provide better awareness in the field, which improves co-ordination and communication between police and the dispatchers.
We have the most advanced workstations we could get our hands on," says Nova Scotia OCC commander Glen Byrne.
Each workstation features a task light that can be seen throughout the office showing when operators are busy with a call. By flipping a switch and turning the light red, they can notify a supervisor when they need help or are handling a critical incident.
It's a quicker process that allows me to continue to focus on the person in need rather than trying to alert someone that I need assistance," says Currie.
Telecommunications operators often work 12-hour shifts answering calls from people in crisis. Ensuring there are tools for addressing operational stress is essential.
The role of the OCC operator is incredibly demanding and challenging," says Insp. Dustine Rodier, officer in charge of the Nova Scotia RCMP OCC. "
Employee wellbeing is a priority."
The new centre includes multiple break rooms featuring comfortable furniture and relaxing scenery for employees to decompress in after challenging calls. The previous centre had only one.
Often times, there are files that can affect both the call taker and the dispatcher and it is important for each operator to have the opportunity to decompress if needed," says Derrice Tucker, a Nova Scotia OCC operator and supervisor with eight years experience.
An ergonomic and comfortable workstation is also necessary for the operators who spend the majority of their shifts at their desk. The new office features improved lighting and workstations with features, such as easily adjustable desks and chairs, which support employee health and wellness.
It's not like a normal office where you can stretch you legs or take a coffee break or wander up to the lunch room," says Byrne. "
If we're not there, there's no one to answer the calls."
Speaking with employees about what would help support their work in the new space was important.
We needed to make sure we had a space they were comfortable to come to," says Byrne.
Being located within headquarters also provides more training and developmental opportunities as well as a greater sense of inclusion within the Division.
The team that put it together did a phenomenal job of making the space feel like our own," says Tucker.