February 6, 2023 4 min read
Rock County Communications Center
- Dispatches for Law, Fire, and EMS
- Annual Call Volume: 290,000
- 2018 APCO’s Director of the Year
- CALEA Accredited Since 2014
Located in Janesville, WI, serving surrounding law, fire, and EMS agencies, Rock County Communications Center handles approximately 290,000 calls per year. RCCC is the longest continuously accredited CALEA public safety communications center in the United States and the only CALEA-accredited communications center in the State of Wisconsin. RCCC also continuously strives to leverage technology in proactive and progressive ways to help support its staff and accomplish its mission.
About Kathren Sukus, Communications Director:
A Wisconsin native, Ms. Sukus is the Director of Rock County Communications Center (RCCC) with nearly 34 years of experience. She holds a degree in Human Resources. People and leadership are her passion, which is evident in speaking with her and hearing how others speak of her. Sukus worked as dispatcher at a local police department before becoming RCCC’s first hire upon the center’s creation in 1993. Sukus worked her way through the ranks and was promoted to Director in 2013 and in 2018 received APCO’s Director of the Year Award. Her husband and son-both police officers-share in Sukus’ dedication to serving and protecting their citizens and collaborate on community events and promotions.
Why RCCC Implemented Guardian Tracking
RCCC’s former Director was a CALEA assessor who started them on their path to accreditation. One of the tools he selected to help meet proofs of compliance was Guardian Tracking, which they have been using since 2014. Prior to that, RCCC was using spreadsheets to manage their documentation. Now, “everything documented goes in Guardian Tracking; QA, commendations, evaluations, coaching, liability incidents, etc. If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen,” Sukus explained.
RCCC’s team continued to find new uses for the Guardian Tracking tool that provided many additional benefits. “The Confidential Entry feature [or Confidential Coaching as RCCC calls it] is necessary at times, but most often, the documentation remains transparent to everyone involved. Initially, there were concerns about this kind of transparency causing issues of misinterpretation of what was written versus said (tone), but the team understands the importance of everyone knowing where they stand-there are no surprises at evaluation time at RCCC,” says Sukus.
Early Intervention Protects Mental Health & Identifies Future Leaders
It’s no secret that attracting and retaining people is one of the most critical issues plaguing public safety and emergency service organizations nationwide. Retention and recruiting rates are at an all-time low. To address these critical issues, RCCC has implemented strategies to combat this trend and help attract and retain staff.
RCCC uses the Early Intervention (EI) feature to track critical incident calls to proactively support, protect, and monitor the emotional impact on their telecommunicators’ mental health. Sukus shared an example of a caller who tragically ended their life while on the 911 call with one of her telecommunicators. Because of the emotional impact of these types of calls, they are recognized as high-impact incidents with appropriate thresholds assigned so that supervisors have the documented and automated reminders to check in with the impacted employee. This also provides transparency to other supervisors, prompting them to “keep an eye” out for behavior considered unusual from that employee. The end goal is to be accountable and proactive in the care and mental wellness of their team.
RCCC’s leadership team recently began using EI to identify ideal candidates for promotions. The goal is to help people build their career in the emergency communications profession and encourage the next generation to view emergency communications as a respectable and desirable career, similar to police, fire, and EMS. RCCC’s leaders strive to ensure the first, first responders receive the recognition deserved for the tough job they do. In 2020, RCCC implemented a Peer Recognition Awards program that has boosted overall morale. “Along with the annual peer awards, we also started the “Fist Bump” commendation that any employee could enter into our Guardian Tracking system so that peers could acknowledge the great work of their co-workers and/or supervisor throughout the year. That too has done wonders for people’s morale,” according to Sukus.
Sukus continues,”…a lot of what we do in a 911 center takes a team and we can always acknowledge those situations, but there are also times that an individual goes above and beyond and we should let them know we appreciate their efforts and not do it ‘behind the scenes’ in an office with a nice letter in their file that no one knows about. We need to recognize these high performers in front of others (including our user agencies and the public) so that we can lift each other up and inspire others. Now, more than ever, we need to support our employees.” Sukus adds, “The funny thing is when you show appreciation for someone else, it makes you feel motivated to do better yourself.”
To read more client testimonials, check out our Success Stories.