Annals of Emergency Dispatch & Response Logo

Public Safety Communications Centers’ Benchmarking Survey

Sep 19, 2022|AEDR 2022 Vol. 10 Issue 2|Original Research
Download PDF


Introduction:  Benchmarking for Public Safety Communication Centers (PSCCs) is relatively new.  Recently, professional associations have been working on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to identify a number of performance metrics for call taking, dispatching, technology, quality assurance and administration.  The goal of developing these KPIs is to provide fundamental metrics which are inherent in all PSCC work.  Yet the standardization of PSCCs’ levels performance to these various KPIs is somewhat limited. 

Objectives:  The objectives of the PSCCs’ Benchmarking Survey (“Survey”) were to focus on a few of the PSCCs’ KPIs and establish a framework that allows for: 1) comparison of different public safety communications systems; 2) provide a foundation of best practices in how KPIs are defined; and 3) develop future performance standards for the profession.

Methods:  This was a prospective PSCC KPI assessment online survey designed to include similar groupings for comparison by obtaining demographical information such as service area population, area square miles, service demand and finance.  The survey also identified Production Methods including for example, specialized or cross trained staff.  The survey defined how various performance metrics were measured, then recorded actual levels of performance of those metrics including: call processing times, protocol compliance, customer satisfaction, turnover rates and cost per call.  Finally, various quality indicators were recorded in the survey such as: accreditation, training, certification, protocols and technology.  Those participating in the survey were assigned a number known only to them and those collecting and analyzing the data. 


1. Association of Public-Safety Communication Officers (APCO). “Public Safety Communications Center Key Performance Indicators.” Draft Candidate APCO ANS 1.117.1-20xx; p.5, APCO International 2019.

2. Ammons D.  “Municipal Benchmarks: Assessing Local Performance and Establishing Community Standards”; Taylor & Francis, 2015 3rd Edition, p. 62.

3. Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  NFPA Standard 1221, Standard for Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Service Communications Systems, 2019 (7.4.2).

4.  APCO. APCO Project RETAINS: Follow Up Study Research Report, January 2009 George Mason University Center for Social Science Research p. 29

5.  Ibid 4, p. 92

6. Ibid 4, p. 91

7.  Ibid 4

8. Overton, J., & Stout, J. (2002). “System Design”. In A.E. Kuehl (Ed.), Prehospital systems and medical oversight (3rd ed.). Dubuque, IA:  Kendall Hunt Publishing.

9. Bello, R. Lively, W. “NENA Standard for 9-1-1 Call Processing, National Emergency Number Association, April 16, 2020, , p. 8.

10. Ibid. 9, p. 19

11. Ibid. 2.

12. Ibid. 2. (7.4.3).

13. Scott, G. et. al., “Characterization of Call Prioritization Time in a Medical Priority Dispatch System”, Annals of Emergency Dispatch & Response, 2016, 4(1):  (we’ll add page #s here)

14. Stout, J. “Jack Stout’s 10 Standards of Excellence: Measuring Your System” Journal of Emergency Medical Services, January 1983, p. 90.

15. Maldonado, M., “Records show longer emergency call-answering times, more abandoned calls since 311, 911 merger”,, November 2, 2021.

16. Clawson, J., et. al., “Effect of a Comprehensive Quality Management Process on Compliance with Protocol in an Emergency Medical Dispatch Center” Annals of Emergency Medicine, 1998; 32(5): 578 – 584.

17. Clawson, J., et. al., “Principles of Emergency Medical Dispatch, 4th Ed.” Liberty Press/Priority Press, 2008, 12.2 – 12.12.

18. “APOC Agency Training Certification Program (ATCP) A Project 33 Initiative”,, November 2, 2021.

19. Rigden, K., et. al., “For Us, It’s the Only Way: Characteristics of ACE Achievement and Barriers to Success, ”, Annals of Emergency Dispatch & Response, 2021, 9(1) pp. 4 – 11.

20. Hicks, D. Quitugua, D., “Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency Organizational and Operational Audit,” Stuart Consulting Group Inc. p. 24. 

21. Schreiner, M. “Filling the Jar: How Much Tech is Too Much?”, APCO Public Safety Communications, 2021; 87(1): 29

22. Paauwe, J., & Boon, C. “Strategic HRM: A critical review.” In D. G. Collings, G. Wood (Eds.) & M.A. Reid, Human resource management: A critical approach (2009) (pp. 38-54). London: Routledge.

23. APCO. APCO Project RETAINS: Follow Up Survey Research Report, January 2009 George Mason University Center for Social Science Research, p. 29