HAMLET — Richmond Community College announced it will be creating a 911 Telecommunications program that will provide a pathway for individuals who are interested in starting a career in this field, as well as providing skills enhancement for those already working as 911 telecommunicators.
The program will be unique to RichmondCC, as it is not currently offered anywhere else in North Carolina.
“There is no other degree program like this in any place in our state, so we’re very excited about this,” said Pokey Harris, North Carolina 911 Board executive director. “This degree program will assist in filling an educational gap that’s currently not be satisfied anywhere for our professionals in 911. So these folks standing by every day to take our calls, they’re very, very much deserving of such a program.”
Students will have the opportunity to earn a certificate, diploma and associate degree within this college curriculum program. At the core of the program are three brand new classes in telecommunications.
Because it will be offered online, individuals from across the state will be able to enroll. While the program will provide advanced education for current 911 telecommunicators, it will also serve as a pipeline for the next generation of telecommunicators.
Gov. Roy Cooper showed his support for the program by dropping in virtually to the ceremony with videoed comments. He said these first first-responders deserve the best training for the life-saving work that they do.
“The innovative program being announced today builds on the longstanding partnership between Richmond Community College and our 911 Board and our Department of Information Technology led by Secretary Jim Weaver. We’ll keep working with our schools to ensure that students and professionals have the tools they need and the training they need to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Cooper said. “Congratulations on creating this great opportunity for our current and future 911 telecommunicators. North Carolina will be safer for it.”
Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RichmondCC, thanked the leaders from the N.C. 911 Board and the N.C. Department of Information Technology for their assistance in developing the 911 Telecommunications program in an expedited amount of time. The program was created within three months of learning about the board’s interest in advanced educational opportunities for 911 telecommunicators.
“We can’t do anything by ourselves. Alone we can go nowhere, especially in rural North Carolina. But together we’ve made the impossible happen,” McInnis said. “We’re going to take this partnership and this program and make it not only the first, but the best.”
James A. Weaver, state chief information officer and secretary of the N.C. Department of Information Technology, described the crucial role 911 telecommunicators play in emergency services.
“911 telecommunicators are true public servants, helping us in our most vulnerable moments and life-and-death situations. They deserve the best career opportunities and growth so that they can thrive in their critically important profession,” Weaver said. “I am proud of the N.C. 911 Board’s partnership with Richmond Community College to lend their expertise in developing this degree program to equip 911 telecommunicators across the state with skills and credentials to even better serve their communities.”
The new program was approved by RichmondCC’s Board of Trustees at its meeting on Tuesday, and it will now go to the N.C. Community College System’s state board meeting in November. Dr. Bill Carver, N.C. Community College System interim president, said this program epitomizes how community colleges serve their communities.
“This program will strengthen communities and at best, save lives. That’s the more important thing and that’s why we’re here today,” Carver said.
Also in attendance and showing support for this new program were Rep. Ben Moss, Rep. Garland Pierce and Sen. Tom McInnis.
Moss thanked the many telecommunicators in attendance for the work they do sitting in the “hot seat” taking critical calls, work that is often under appreciated. Pierce echoed those sentiments, while also recognizing RichmondCC for taking on this initiative.
Sen. McInnis talked about at time when there was no 911 and how much the system has evolved over the years.
“Not only where we are today, but where we’re going with this program. It is going to give the power of education, knowledge and skills all rolled under one envelope to folks who otherwise had to learn it the hard way, by on-the-job training,” McInnis said.
RichmondCC plans to launch the program with the start of the 2023 Fall Semester. Students can apply for free online at www.richmondcc.edu/admissions. Applications are good for a year and do not commit you to enrolling.