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NOBELSVILLE, Ind.–The training of the 911 dispatchers in Hamilton County may have made a difference in the outcome of the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School one year ago, said Ed Reuter, executive director of the Indiana Statewide 911 Board.  But, not all counties give their dispatchers the same training.

“In Indiana the mandatory training that we have now is strictly emergency medical dispatch training and telephone CPR. The rest of the training is really up to each individual public safety answering director as to how much training they have,” said Reuter.

He said Hamilton County dispatchers go through a very intense training program. Like many other counties, the most valuable experience comes from training alongside experienced dispatchers who have dealt with intense emergency situation. 

The Noblesville West shooting was indeed intense.

“It was not only the 911 dispatch center, but also all of public safety, and the folks at the school, how they reacted, Jason Seaman. There were so many things that were done that made this a better outcome than it could’ve been.”

Reuter, himself a former dispatcher, said dispatchers have to be good multitaskers to be successful. Your outcome depends on how well they hold together and do their job.


One of the toughest parts is keeping the adrenaline in check and staying calm. Reuter said dispatchers in Indiana do a good job at staying calm and relaying the information from the callers to law enforcement and emergency personnel. The dispatchers in Hamilton County, and Wayne County, where there was a shooting in December and the suspect came to a school, have been asked to consult with dispatchers in other states.

Reuter said the Statewide Board helps provide funding for training, but he has hopes for future progress.

“We’re hoping that someday Indiana will push for mandatory (training) for all telecommunicators,” he said. “What we’re also looking at with the Statewide Board, we’re looking at how we can help provide mental health training to the directors.”

Reuters said that can be a key component to helping highly-trained people stay on a very intense job.

PHOTO: Eric Berman/Emmis