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Illuminations CDE Programs

General Illuminations

The General Illuminations Program provides at-your-desk continuing education for telecommunicators and other public safety communications professionals. The program is offered as an annual subscription-based service.

Each month, Illuminations instructors present timely, relevant topics that can be accessed online, anytime during the month, from any computer with Internet access. Topic selections change each year. APCO also offers EMD Illuminations and CTO Illuminations, each of which features a different series of topics.

Each month-long course allows participants to earn one CDE, for a total of 12 CDEs per subscription year. Participants must submit copies of Illuminations certificates of completion to the Institute to receive CDEs.

General Illuminations Topics for 2021

Topics are subject to change.

Wildfires and Hotshots
Across the United States, there are 68 hotshot crews with approximately 20 wildland firefighters each. These hotshot crews respond to large, high-priority wildland fires and are assigned to work the most challenging parts of the fire. This session will look at the hotshot crews and the unique factors of large wildland fires such as firenadoes and fire incident meteorologists and fire behavior analysts.
A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm associated with fast-moving thunderstorms, potentially rivaling tornadic and hurricane wind forces. Derechos can cause tornadoes, heavy rains, flash flooding, and extensive property damage. This session will look at derechos and the PSTs role in preparing and responding to this unique weather phenomenon.
Diversity and Differences
Recognizing and appreciating individual differences is essential in public safety. This session will delve into common differences such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs and customs.
Something Does Not Seem Right
Sometimes what we hear does not make sense. This session will review active listening skills, including attitude, attention, adjustment, and the importance of listening to what the caller says or what they are not saying.
Citizen and Responder Safety
Gathering pertinent information for the safety of the caller and the responding units is vital. This session will discuss dangers such as armed suspects, hazardous fire scenes, combative medical patients, and the information needed to ensure scene safety.
Ethics and the PST
Values, moral principles and proper behavior standards are crucial in the workplace. This session will discuss various types of work ethic skills and ways to ensure high ethical standards.

General Illuminations Topics for 2022

Topics are subject to change.

When Tragedy Leads to Reform
This session examines various tragedies, often involving 9-1-1, that have led to legislative changes and the implementation of new laws.  Marsy’s law, Karis’ law, Megan’s law, Alyssa’s law, and Amber Alert are discussed.
Compassionate Call Taking
When receiving various types of calls, the PST may find them “routine” and not particularly demanding.  However, these incidents, whether burglaries that occurred in the past, minor traffic crashes, small kitchen stove fires, or a seemingly non-life-threatening stroke, have a significant long-term impact on the individuals involved. This session will reinforce the need to demonstrate compassion to all callers, no matter the circumstance. 
Civil Unrest and Threats to Government Buildings
More and more civil unrest has led to vandalizing government buildings, including threats to accessing communications centers. Signs of threats and types of coordinated groups are discussed. Implementing protective actions for the communications center are identified. 
Dangers of Dispatch Priming
This session will delve into the dangers of dispatch priming and how the information provided or inferred during the call taking phase and then relayed to responding field personnel may “prime” the field personnel into making strong judgments on the scene up to and including use of force.
Gang Activity
Violent crimes often involve members of gangs. Gang activities and trends are discussed, as well as intelligence gathering.  Safe Streets Task Forces and the National Gang Intelligence Center are reviewed.
Unique Crashes
This session will examine some of the more unique traffic crashes that occur, which may overwhelm the responding agencies. Examples include overturned money trucks that spew coins across the interstate, semi-tractor trailer crashes with BBQ sauce soybeans, milk, and more.  These incidents require extended road closures and logistical support to handle the unique clean-up situations.
'My Kid is Out of Control'
Parents often call 9-1-1 when they cannot control their child’s behavior. This session looks at some common reasons for calling, such as refusal to go to school, angry outbursts, drug use, the threat of suicide, and threat of violence against others. Topics include information about potential physical and mental conditions and common medications prescribed for overactive children.
PSTs Rise to Occurrences
Just as chicken little ran around proclaiming “the sky is falling” with each unique challenge, the tendency in the communications center is to proclaim, “the sky is falling.” Rather than reacting to the challenge, this session will focus on the adaptability of the PST and rising to various occurrences.
This session will focus on the homeless population, their living conditions, and  common problems experienced in this environment.  Response types for law enforcement, fire, and EMS are discussed. 
The System Just Crashed!
What happens when the CAD system, phone system, or radios go down?  How do you prepare for continuity of services? This session looks at the need to have “back to the basics” call-taking and dispatch skills. Such events may include using pen, paper, cards, and other alternative means of communication.
ICS Refresher
This session delves into the Incident Command System (ICS).  A review of how the system is established, who reports to whom, and how responsibilities are assigned are discussed.
Acronyms galore
What do they all mean? Public safety often uses lingo with acronyms. Discover the meanings behind FOIA, GIS, CISM, TERT, NIMS, IDT, KPI, NPSTC, EAP, NFPA, DoS, MITM, HNT, CNT, and other commonly used acronyms.

Annual Subscription

$119 non-member
$109 APCO member
$99 per person (group of 26-50 registrants)
$89 per person (group of 51+ registrants)

Purchase General Illuminations

  • Go to the Illuminations registration page, where you will see a list of classes by date.
  • Select the month for the version of Illuminations you want to take
  • Click Register next to that topic and month.
  • Follow the instructions to complete registration for this track.

You will be subscribed to General Illuminations for 12 months starting with the month and topic you selected.