Police, Fire, & Ambulance Dispatchers
Also called: Communications Officer, Communications Operator, Dispatcher, Public Safety Dispatcher
Produced by CareerOneStop
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In an emergency, when a 9-1-1 call is made, emergency dispatchers keep a cool head to ensure that callers get the help they need, while providing a reassuring presence over the phone. Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers answer emergency and nonemergency calls. They quickly determine the type of emergency, its location and the response needed, then relay that information to the appropriate emergency responders. They also give medical instructions or advice on how to stay safe until help arrives. Dispatchers monitor and track emergency vehicles, coordinate responses with other local communication centers, and keep detailed records of calls. Dispatch work is stressful. Dispatchers often work long shifts taking many calls… under pressure to respond quickly and calmly… sometimes handling life-threatening situations. Most work for local government, in centers called public safety answering points. Some work in law enforcement agencies and fire departments. Shifts include weekends, evenings and holidays. Dispatchers generally need a high school diploma, U.S. citizenship, and dispatcher certification. Candidates may be required to pass a typing test, background check, drug tests, lie detector, and hearing and vision tests. Spanish language skills are a plus.
What they do:Operate radio, telephone, or computer equipment at emergency response centers. Receive reports from the public of crimes, disturbances, fires, and medical or police emergencies. Relay information to law enforcement and emergency response personnel. May maintain contact with caller until responders arrive.
On the job, you would:
- Question callers to determine their locations, and the nature of their problems to determine type of response needed.
- Determine response requirements and relative priorities of situations, and dispatch units in accordance with established procedures.
- Record details of calls, dispatches, and messages.
- customer service
- administrative services
Safety and Government
- public safety and security
- law and government
Arts and Humanities
- English language
- listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
- talking to others
- understanding people's reactions
- changing what is done based on other people's actions
- noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
- communicate by speaking
- listen and understand what people say
- pay attention to something without being distracted
- do two or more things at the same time
Ideas and Logic
- notice when problems happen
- make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
- quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things
People interested in this work like activities that include data, detail, and regular routines.
They do well at jobs that need:
- Stress Tolerance
- Attention to Detail
- Self Control
- Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Data base user interface and query software
- 911 system information databases
- Law enforcement information databases
Helpdesk or call center software
- Computer aided dispatch software
- Spillman Technologies Spillman Computer-Aided Dispatch
Office suite software