Are you a fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher who’s received a complaint from the Florida Department of Health? If so, it’s important that you take the grievance filed against you seriously, no matter how minor it may seem. A complaint of this nature can harm your professional reputation and future career. Losing your Florida 911 Public Safety Telecommunications Certification further penalties, suspensions, and a besmirched status among your family, friends, and coworkers.
At The Umansky Law Firm, our Orlando 911 dispatcher certification defense attorneys understand how to construct a concrete defense against the allegations against you. We can help you navigate the Florida legal system and potentially close the investigation before it becomes public record.
A fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher—sometimes referred to as a public safety telecommunicator or simply a 911 operator—is tasked with managing the radio, telephone, or computer equipment at emergency response centers. Their main job is to receive reports about crimes, disturbances, fires, and medical or police emergencies, relay that information to law enforcement and emergency response personnel, and potentially maintain contact with the caller until responders arrive.
The role of a fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher can go beyond just answering 911 calls. They must also decide the appropriate response based on agency procedures, relay information to the correct first-responder agency, give basic over-the-phone medical instructions before emergency personnel arrives, monitor and track the status of police, fire, and ambulance units, and keep detailed records of calls.
Florida Statute 401.465 defines a 911 public safety telecommunicator as:
“…a public safety dispatcher or 911 operator whose duties and responsibilities include the answering, receiving, transferring, and dispatching functions related to 911 calls; dispatching law enforcement officers, fire rescue services, emergency medical services, and other public safety services to the scene of an emergency; providing real-time information from federal, state, and local crime databases; or supervising or serving as the command officer to a person or persons having such duties and responsibilities.”
Fire, police, and ambulance dispatchers play an important role during critical emergencies and are the lifeline for individuals whose lives may be at risk. They must be certified to ensure they are fully prepared for the rigors of the job and the heavy responsibility they have to protect the public. Not only must they calm hysterical 911 callers, but they must also provide life-saving medical instructions, quickly document vital information, and dispatch ambulance and fire personnel to high-stakes calls.
The Florida Department of Health handles all certifications for those wishing to become a fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher in the state of Florida. To earn a 911 Public Safety Telecommunications Certification, you must complete the appropriate training and standardized examinations outlined on the FDH website. This includes approved training programs of at least 232 hours following the state curriculum, a multiple-choice exam administered by Prometric that’s available to take online, and a total fee of $125 ($75 to take the exam and $50 to submit the final application).
The state of Florida conditions that a fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher can face disciplinary action if they fail to uphold the protocols outlined by the applicable qualifications. Florida Statute 401.465 states the following, in broad terms:
“The department may suspend or revoke a certificate at any time if it determines that the certificate holder does not meet the applicable qualifications.”
Likewise, Florida Statute 365.171 adds an additional, more specific penalty:
“…the name, address, telephone number, or personal information about, or information which may identify any person requesting emergency service or reporting an emergency by accessing an emergency communications E911 system is confidential…”
Penalties against fire, police, and ambulance dispatchers are taken seriously. It’s important that you contact a credible defense attorney if you’ve received any kind of complaint.
Anyone who wishes to submit a complaint against a fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher would do so by filling out the Department of Health’s online form and returning it by mail to the Bureau of Emergency Medical Oversight located in Tallahassee. Alternatively, they could submit their complaint via the Emergency Medical Services email address (EMSInvestigation@flhealth.gov).
After the Florida Department of Health receives a complaint against a certified fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher, it’s reviewed by an investigator who will further assess the case. The investigation involves collecting information that will determine whether the complaint has adequate legal grounds to proceed.
Information collected during an investigation typically includes:
If enough evidence is gathered to advance to the next step, the Probable Cause panel will review and potentially proceed with disciplinary action.
It’s highly encouraged that you partner with an experienced and skilled certification defense attorney to help you develop a compelling response to the investigation procedure. It’s not uncommon for an expert attorney to end the investigation process at its earliest stages, preventing you from withstanding further harm to your business or reputation.
If the investigation procures enough proof to move the allegation to the next step, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel, which evaluates the evidence and documents associated with the complaint. Throughout this process, it’s crucial that you have a defense lawyer by your side and do not attempt to handle it alone.
The panel review may lead to three possible results:
Your case will be dismissed if there’s not enough evidence to determine that you violated any guidelines. If the board determines that there was a minor breach of conduct, you won’t face disciplinary action but may suffer detrimental damage to your reputation. If the board concludes that a major violation occurred, the process will proceed to the next step.
A formal Administrative Complaint is the most serious outcome that can result from a review. At this point, your case has become public record and your professional status with your colleagues is at stake, even if you’re cleared of all charges. The complaint describes the evidence and information discovered during the investigation, along with the specific laws or regulations that you’re accused of violating. At this stage, you have to decide whether you want to proceed with a Formal Hearing or an Informal Hearing. A professional license defense attorney will best be able to help determine which path is most strategic.
At an Informal Hearing, you will accept the allegations formed against you without contending or presenting new evidence. Following an Informal Hearing, you will face the Florida Department of Health who will make a final decision regarding the penalties that will be prescribed against you.
At a Formal Hearing, on the other hand, you have the option of arguing your case and disputing the allegations against you by presenting new evidence. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and is chaired by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will listen to the arguments from both parties and eventually make a final Recommended Order. The Florida Department of Health will ultimately make a closing decision concerning the disciplinary actions you will face.
At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional certification defense team investigates every case in considerable detail to uncover the facts and determine the best approach to protect your rights. Working with an Orlando 911 dispatcher certification defense attorney who has experience defending fire, police, and ambulance dispatchers should be your top priority.
The attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm can help you by:
If you’re a fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher who’s received a complaint from the Florida Department of Health, consider reaching out to the experts at The Umansky Law Firm. We’re a group of skilled defense lawyers who will help fight for your rights. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team has the time and expertise to launch an investigation into your case and the circumstances leading up to the complaint.
At The Umansky Law Firm, we know the ins and outs of fire, police, and ambulance dispatcher certification defense law and can help fight for your rights. To speak with an administrative lawyer, give us a call or complete our online contact form today.
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