Mitigating Risk & Liability in Public Safety with Digitized Training Documentation

Hamilton County PSC Case Study - PowerFTO

September 2, 2022

Hamilton County is located in Noblesville, IN, just north of Indianapolis, comprising eight towns and covering 398 square miles.

With a population of nearly 315,000, the Hamilton County Public Safety Communications (HCPSC) center receives approximately 250,000 non-emergency telephone calls annually, with an additional 80,000 calls for 9-1-1 services.

This incredible volume of calls requires lots of well-trained staff to ensure HCPSC can keep up with the demand. But the call center saw a problem: its telecommunicator training management system would likely hinder defenses against liability issues.

A process riddled with risks

Like many other agencies, HCPSC often struggles to find individuals who can weather the difficult challenge of being a successful emergency telecommunicator. Not everyone performs well under the immense stress of such high-risk situations that arise in a 9-1-1 center. To succeed, new hires must be able to coordinate officer safety, caller location, situational control, and accurate information through a series of channels to ensure the best outcome.

One key element to giving new telecommunicators the greatest opportunity for success is an effective training process. HCPSC uses a standardized communications training officer (CTO) program to onboard new telecommunicators and continue education from the classroom to the floor. A staple of this program is its clear and consistent documentation process. At the end of each shift, the new hire’s CTO produces a Daily Observation Report (DOR) that scores the trainee in different performance categories.

Up until the fall of 2015, HCPSC documented this process on paper and kept the signed copies in a binder. The system was wasteful, inefficient, and time-consuming, and the agency’s Director of Operations, Darin Riney, knew it was creating risks for the organization. Having served in many different capacities in public safety since 1999, Darin was familiar with the significance of an effective training program – and also the importance of properly managed training documentation in the case of a liability issue.

A system of preparedness and protection

To ensure they were fully prepared to support staff and defend the agency, HCPSC needed a better system for managing its extensive CTO documentation. And Darin knew training software could help.

In late 2015, HCPSC decided to switch from their cumbersome paper system to a cloud-based software solution for their CTO documentation processes, and PowerFTO was exactly what they needed. PowerFTO, formerly Agency360, gives the center a streamlined, easy-to-use system to manage all of its training and documentation needs for both trainees and CTOs. Furthermore, the software allows HCPSC to prepare and store DORs in one centralized location, lets trainees keep track of their training progress and review their scores, and enables staff to access their resources from anywhere, on any device.

Putting liability to the test

This transition to PowerFTO didn’t come a moment too soon. In early 2016, HCPSC was called to court on an unemployment case from a trainee who was let go from their CTO program for falling too far behind.

“Sometimes trainees fail, and we have to end their training short of becoming a full-time telecommunicator. In those instances, we need the right amount of documentation to prove that they are being let go for the right reasons.”

-Darin Riney, Director of Operations

The trainee was still in the middle of the CTO program and was not progressing as expected, which resulted in termination. Shortly thereafter, the employee filed for unemployment. Based on the recorded documentation in PowerFTO that HCPSC presented to the court and the trainee, the unemployment system determined she was terminated with just cause.

In Indiana, when someone is denied unemployment, they can file an appeal which requires both parties to testify before a judicial employment judge. Per procedure, HCPSC sent the judge a compilation report with all of the trainee’s records, and PowerFTO made it simple to prepare them in one file for easy review. This also simplified the questioning process – when HCPSC was called to testify, the judge asked two questions: whether the trainee was allowed to review the CTO’s comments and if the comments recorded by the trainee were her own.

PowerFTO allows employees to review their DORs, so the employee’s comments were electronically signed in the system by both the trainer and the trainee. Since the comments came directly from the DOR and the electronic signatures showed all parties agreed to the trainer and trainee reviews, it was clearly proven to the judge that the answer to both questions was yes.

Reaping the reward of software

With the evidence from PowerFTO’s training documentation software on their side, the judge ultimately decided in HCPSC’s favor.

“A large part of winning the appeal was the user-friendly set up of [PowerFTO]. Without the ease of use, our CTO’s wouldn’t have been as comfortable doing the documentation and [would’ve] been less likely to utilize the system to its full advantage.”

-Darin Riney, Director of Operations

With support from PowerFTO’s streamlined system and easy access to documentation for trainers and trainees, HCPSC avoided a liability crisis that could negatively impact the center’s public standing and saved on the costs of a lost court case.

“It’s always said, ‘If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen. Well, this was a case of ‘It did happen, and it was documented’ – thanks to [PowerFTO].”

-Darin Riney, Director of Operations

HCPSC has now used PowerFTO, formerly Agency360, for more than 6 years to effectively manage the call center’s CTO training program and all of the accompanying documentation. “Education and training is very important to public safety,” Darin said. “[PowerFTO] has helped our program and I hope it can help [others], as well.” PowerFTO is proud to help HCPSC mitigate risk by using software to improve essential staff training and documentation, avoid liability hazards, and better serve the Hamilton County community.

Schedule a free demo to discover how PowerFTO can transform your agency’s field training operations, communications, and documentation processes today. 

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