By Special Guest Writer Veronica J. Ross, CMCP Support Services Supervisor
Public safety staff shortages are not a unique problem to Charleston County (SC) as agencies across the country are struggling to fill spots. Charleston County has been working to find creative ways to combat this issue.
Under the leadership of Deputy County Administrator Eric Watson, the Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center and Emergency Medical Services have created a program that will not only address our staffing and retention issues, but also give back to the community.
In collaboration with the Charleston County School District, the Public Safety Department established the Student Leadership and Intern Program. In addition to developing future leaders, the program will provide students with employment opportunities, professional and individual growth, while staying local and contributing to their community.
The Student Leadership and Intern Program is a paid, two-year internship with the students being assigned to the 9-1-1 Center or Emergency Medical Services. Once the students have completed the internship, they will be fast tracked for full-time employment.
We will begin this year with Charleston County High School Juniors. EMS will train them in basic ambulatory care, CPR, and how to stop a bleed. 9-1-1 will provide classroom-style training that focuses on the benefits of being a Public Safety Telecommunicator, basic life skills, and soft skills. Students who complete the internship will receive half a credit toward their graduation.
Students are required to have parental or guardian consent to participate in the program. This allows our staff to communicate with school counselors about the student's attendance, grades, and any academic probations.
Students will attend training one day a month when they return to school for their senior year to keep them engaged in the program. This will include online training, ride-alongs and/or attending and assisting with public education events.
After graduation, students will return to complete the second year of the program. Upon successful completion of the certification trainings, they are eligible to apply for full-time employment.
We know the traditional collegiate pathway is not always an option for students, so we are providing an alternative where graduates can grow and develop their skills that can lead to a full-time job with benefits. Together with the schools and community, we believe we will achieve our goal to employ, retain, and promote from within.
Interested candidates who meet the minimum qualifications should apply by April 10, 2022.
About the Author:
Veronica Ross, CMCP, is a native of Charleston, SC. Veronica began her career with Charleston County in 2005 as a Law Dispatcher for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. In 2009, Charleston County consolidated the local police, fire and emergency medical services to create the Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center. Currently, Veronica is the Support Services Supervisor and responsible for the Training Department. She has developed training for Workplace Violence, Stress Management, Soft Skills Training and Engaging in Your Personnel and has taught this training at APCO/NENA Conferences and the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch’s (IAED) Navigator Conference. Veronica never misses an opportunity to network and has provided training assistance and information to several law enforcement agencies in South Carolina.