PSAC Profile: Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International

August 29, 2017
APCO logo.png
APCO logo.png

This is the latest in a series of blogs highlighting FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC).  The PSAC consists of members representing associations and agencies from all disciplines of public safety, as well as state, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and provides guidance and recommendations to FirstNet in carrying out its duties and responsibilities. Its input is invaluable to the development of the FirstNet network.

When most people think of public safety, their minds naturally jump to firefighting, law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS). It’s true that these disciplines account for a great deal of first responders, but what about those who answer our emergency calls for help at Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and other emergency communications call centers?

Enter public safety telecommunicators, who encompass numerous functions and roles, including technicians, 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers and more. Without these skilled communicators, first responders would not be able to effectively deploy their resources and respond to emergency events.

As one of the oldest associations for public safety communications, APCO International helps to keep communications practices consistent with emerging technologies and trends, so that public safety can maintain connectivity and situational awareness within their command structures. APCO has accomplished this through an ongoing series of projects generated as responses to widespread public safety communications challenges.

APCO also provides an extensive array of internationally accepted training curriculums. These range from basic training standards to leadership-oriented in scope. Additionally, APCO places a heavy emphasis on spectrum management. Through their Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) unit, APCO assists with licensing applications, compliance and local advisement.

APCO’s representative to FirstNet’s PSAC is First Vice President Martha Carter. Martha also serves as the 9-1-1 Administrator for Caddo Parish Louisiana, and has made her mark on the PSAC, sharing APCO updates at the PSAC’s June 15 meeting, for example, during FirstNet’s Senior 9-1-1 Advisor Bill Hinkle’s update on 9-1-1 related outreach and engagement activities. 

APCO hosted its 83rd Annual Conference and Expo in Denver, Colorado from August 13-17, 2017. The conference brought thousands of attendees and nearly 300 vendors to its exhibit halls from across the worldwide public safety community.   

“APCO has been a terrific partner to FirstNet over the years. Recognizing the need and value of a nationwide public safety broadband network, APCO has included FirstNet informational and educational sessions in all of their national events for the past several years. Weaving FirstNet related issues and progress reports throughout their educational programing, APCO has been instrumental in helping the 9-1-1 community better understand the relationship between NG911 and FirstNet as the two networks converge at the PSAP and forever change the way our first responders communicate in the future,” said Bill Hinkle at the Denver conference.

FirstNet and the PSAC are thankful to APCO for their continued collaboration, partnership and inclusion at annual events. Through continued work together, public safety telecommunications will keep on growing in ways beneficial to the greater public safety community.


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