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Cool Schools: South Bend teaches students 911 software

Cool Schools: South Bend teaches students 911 software

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- South Bend schools are turning a career into curriculum, giving students a chance to learn what it takes to be a 911 dispatcher.

The specially formed curriculum is in its second year. Those involved say it is prepping kids for life after high school.

“It’s really interesting,” said Mariana Winke, a senior in the class. “We’re learning different things that you wouldn’t expect.”

Students in the class get hands on with what it’s like to pick up the call. They’re learning 911 software, learning techniques and listening to recorded emergency calls.

“I like learning how to communicate CPR through the phone,” said Ahjah Hayes, a senior in the class.

Brian Hamilton, another senior in the class says he’s enjoying the challenges it brings.

“My favorite part of the class is when we get to listen to previous calls,” Hamilton said.

The class is giving students exposure to what it takes to be in the high-stress career.

“What I’m really enjoying is we’re going to be able to put them on the floor and just listen to it so they can see, yeah this is definitely something I can do or no this is too much I can’t handle that,” said Katrina Jachim, a 911 dispatcher and instructor of the class.

Jachim says she’s molded the class to include more educational aspects than originally included.

“I love it because usually this course is five days long, eight hours,” she said. “I’m the first one that’s able to extend it and have it a whole curriculum, which is awesome because I can do so much more for the students.”

That includes field trips and one-on-one time with officers to ask questions.

“It’s really fun to see their faces because it’s a lot more hands on than just going beep beep beep in a computer,” said Jachim. “It’s investigating and pulling documents and helping the public and it’s a lot more serious.”

Nancy Lockhart, the fire operations chief at the St. Joseph County Dispatch Center, says she thinks the class is a great partnership with the school.

“Not every student that comes out of high school is college bound, or they may be going to school locally and looking for part time opportunities. This affords them that opportunity,” said Lockhart.

At the end of the class, students have a chance to get a CTE certification. That could make them more valuable to employers by giving them more of a foundational understanding of what is expected in the job.

“We think it’s going to give them a good shot if they want to go on and be a 911 dispatcher for a career,” said Lockhart.

But the lesson plan extends past just a career in dispatching.

“It’s going to help build like communication skills,” said Hamilton.

“With the course you’re also teaching calming techniques,” said Jachim. She says there are also lessons in stress management. Giving life skills to students no matter what career they pursue.

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