Deborah Achtenberg is a Co-Founder of the 911 Training Institute with her brother, Jim Marshall, and his wife, Linda Marshall. She is a retired dispatcher and 9-1-1 trainer with 26 years of service who advocated and pioneered dispatcher training programs in the state of Michigan.
In 1984, Deborah started her career in 9-1-1 as a dispatcher with the Waterford Township Police Department (MI). In 1993, she was promoted to a “Dispatcher II” classification and started seeking training opportunities for the dispatchers at her department to keep their skills sharp. Deborah recognized her department needed a communications training program and she persuaded command staff to build the program. She attended Communications Training Officer (CTO) classes and spearheaded the project that created a CTO program at her department.
In the early 1990’s, Deborah learned about Michigan's 312 Act, which established binding arbitration for police officers and "emergency telephone operators". She rallied support from local dispatchers and sought out police unions willing to represent them in order to improve negotiating position for contracts with binding arbitration protection. She created the dispatchers local union, affiliated with the Police Officers Association of Michigan, and served as the local president for several years.
In 2002, Deborah was promoted to Dispatch Coordinator. She implemented specialized testing for candidates applying for open 9-1-1 positions that helped the department better assess specific skills required in the duties and responsibilities of a dispatcher.
Executive leaders from the Police Academy at Oakland Community College asked Deborah to develop a training program for 9-1-1 dispatchers that met statewide basic training mandated for all telecommunicators in Michigan. She invited her brother, Jim Marshall, to contribute a stress management component to this training because she knew he would truly listen to dispatchers share their painful stories and understand their need for guidance from a mental health professional. Together they collaborated to create the very first Survive & Thrive training class.
In 2006, Deborah and Jim co-founded 911 Training & Consultants, LLC, a private company that provided unique training classes focused on stress, resilience, and mental health crisis, specifically customized for dispatchers. This company would later become what is now the 911 Training Institute.
In 2007, Deborah created, developed, and implemented a "9-1-1 Academy" into operations at the Oakland Police Academy. The 9-1-1 Academy bundled different classes together into six consecutive weeks and offered it to people interested in a career in 9-1-1, as well as newly hired dispatchers at public-safety agencies. The state approved the academy and covered operational costs for qualified applicants so they could pursue 9-1-1 jobs at public-safety agencies. In 2009, the academy received a grant that paid for radio console simulators, special training equipment that gave students a real-world, hands-on learning experience. This 9-1-1 Academy was the first of its kind in the state of Michigan and it still operates today at Oakland Community College to serve training needs for 9-1-1 professionals.
Deborah attended North Central Michigan College, where she studied Accounting. Prior to her full retirement in 2010, she was a member of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) for over 15 years. Deborah was an Emergency Number Professional (ENP) through NENA and a certified instructor with the Priority Dispatch Corporation. She continues to inspire the 911TI Administration and Faculty as they continue their mission of service to 9-1-1 professionals.