Career Development

What Does a 911 Dispatcher Do?

Find out what a 911 dispatcher does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a 911 dispatcher.

Dispatchers are responsible for receiving and processing emergency calls, dispatching the appropriate resources to respond to these calls, and keeping track of all relevant information. They work closely with police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency responders to ensure that help is on its way as quickly as possible.

Dispatchers may also be responsible for providing instructions or updates to callers who are experiencing an emergency situation. This might include giving them directions to a nearby hospital or telling them how long it will take for help to arrive.

911 Dispatcher Job Duties

911 dispatchers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Taking reports from emergency responders about accidents, crimes in progress, and other incidents
  • Maintaining contact with emergency responders during emergencies to provide status updates on an operation or event
  • Coordinating emergency responses with other agencies such as police departments, fire departments, hospitals, and other emergency response teams
  • Coordinating with other departments within a company regarding inquiries regarding rates, policies, procedures, or services
  • Processing information from emergency calls and dispatching it to the appropriate team for immediate action
  • Verifying the identities of callers requesting service or information to ensure that they are who they say they are
  • Establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with other emergency response organizations
  • Maintaining records of emergency calls, including time and date of call and outcome of each call
  • Monitoring incoming calls to dispatch emergency services to the appropriate location

911 Dispatcher Salary & Outlook

Dispatchers’ salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the company size and geographic location. Dispatchers may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $47,000 ($22.6/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $147,000 ($70.67/hour)

The employment of dispatchers is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited by the increasing automation of some dispatcher tasks, such as routing calls and collecting information from callers. However, dispatchers will continue to be needed to monitor alarm systems and other types of electronic equipment.

911 Dispatcher Job Requirements

911 dispatchers typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require 911 dispatchers to have a high school diploma or GED. Some employers may require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, public safety or a related field. These degrees provide dispatchers with the knowledge and skills they need to perform their duties.

Training & Experience: Most 911 dispatchers receive on-the-job training, which may last for a few weeks to a month. During this training period, they learn the company’s policies and procedures, as well as the computer systems and software they will use on a daily basis. They also learn about the emergency services they will be dispatching and the different types of calls they will be handling.

Certifications & Licenses: Some employers may require employees to pass an industry-specific certification to show their general understanding of the field.

911 Dispatcher Skills

911 dispatchers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Verbal communication skills: Verbal communication skills are the ability to communicate effectively through speech. Dispatchers must be able to relay information to callers and other emergency personnel effectively. They must also be able to listen to callers and respond to their questions or concerns. Verbal communication skills are also important when dispatchers are relaying information to emergency personnel. They must be able to give clear directions and instructions to help first responders find the location of an emergency and get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Written communication skills: Dispatchers use written communication skills to send and receive messages. They use these skills to send emergency responders to the right location, send messages to other departments and send messages to victims and witnesses. They also use written communication skills to take notes about emergency situations and keep records of emergency calls.

Attention to detail: Dispatchers need to have excellent attention to detail to ensure they’re providing the right information to emergency responders. They need to be able to gather all the necessary information from callers and relay it to the responding officers. This includes knowing the location of the emergency, the type of emergency and any other details that may be important.

Ability to multitask: Dispatchers often have several tasks going at once, including taking calls, recording information, sending emergency responders to the right location and keeping track of the status of each call. Dispatchers need to be able to handle multiple tasks at once and prioritize their work. This can help them ensure that emergency responders are sent to the right location and that callers receive the help they need as quickly as possible.

Computer skills: Computer skills are an important skill for 911 dispatchers to have. They use computers to enter information into databases, send emails and search for information about emergency situations. Dispatchers should have basic computer skills, such as knowing how to use a mouse and keyboard, how to navigate through a computer system and how to use various software programs.

911 Dispatcher Work Environment

Dispatchers work in clean, well-lit, and comfortable offices. They usually work in shifts that cover all hours of the day and night, including weekends and holidays. Some dispatchers may work overtime or be on call, which means they must be available to work at any time. Dispatchers typically work full time, but some may work part time. The job can be stressful, and dispatchers must be able to handle high-pressure situations. They must be able to think quickly and make decisions in an instant. They also must be able to handle the emotional stress of the job, which can be difficult at times.

911 Dispatcher Trends

Here are three trends influencing how 911 dispatchers work. 911 dispatchers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for Better Communication Between First Responders

The need for better communication between first responders is becoming increasingly important, as it can help to improve the response time and overall effectiveness of emergency teams.

Dispatchers are in a unique position to help with this trend, as they are often the first point of contact between first responders and the public. Dispatchers can use this position to help create better communication channels between emergency teams and the public they serve. This can include things like developing better methods of communicating with the public during emergencies or creating more efficient ways to share information.

More Use of Technology in the Workplace

As technology continues to evolve, so too does its use in the workplace. Dispatchers are beginning to utilize technology in new and innovative ways, which is leading to increased efficiency and productivity.

One example of this trend is the use of mobile devices to manage work tasks. By using apps and other tools, dispatchers can stay connected to their team and manage tasks on the go. This allows them to focus on what’s most important and ensures that tasks get done quickly and efficiently.

Emergency Response Teams Will Become More Collaborative

As emergency response teams become more collaborative, dispatcher roles will need to adapt.

In the past, emergency response teams were typically made up of individual members who worked independently. However, as teams become more collaborative, dispatchers will need to be able to communicate effectively with each member and coordinate their efforts. This requires strong leadership skills and the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

How to Become a 911 Dispatcher

911 dispatchers have a unique and important job. They are the first line of contact for people in need, so it’s essential that they are able to handle any situation with professionalism and care.

To be successful in this career, you must be able to stay calm under pressure, think quickly on your feet, and remain patient even when dealing with difficult people. You should also be able to work well as part of a team and be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.

If you want to become a 911 dispatcher, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself. First, make sure you have excellent communication skills. This means being able to speak clearly and confidently, as well as write clearly and concisely. It also means having good listening skills and being able to understand what other people are saying. Second, develop your problem-solving skills. Being a 911 dispatcher requires being able to think creatively when faced with unexpected situations. Third, build up your knowledge of emergency procedures and protocols.

Advancement Prospects

The best way to advance in this career is to get more experience. Many 911 dispatchers start out as customer service representatives or call center operators. They then move into a position as a 911 dispatcher. With more experience, they may be promoted to a supervisory position, such as shift supervisor or operations manager. Some 911 dispatchers may also move into other emergency management positions, such as emergency medical dispatcher, fire dispatcher, or police dispatcher.

911 Dispatcher Job Description Example

The [CompanyX] 911 Dispatcher is responsible for answering emergency and non-emergency calls, determining the nature of the call, and dispatching appropriate personnel and resources. The Dispatcher must be able to multi-task, think quickly and clearly, and maintain a calm demeanor during high-stress situations. He or she must have excellent customer service skills and be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. The Dispatcher must also be able to maintain confidentiality of information.

The Dispatcher is responsible for maintaining radio contact with field units, updating unit status in the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, and inputting data into the computer system. He or she must be able to work independently with little supervision and be able to make decisions quickly and accurately.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Answer emergency and non-emergency calls, determining the nature and urgency of the call
  • Quickly and calmly assess the situation, gather information, and provide instructions to caller
  • Enter data into computer-aided dispatch system, keeping track of all units on the field
  • Monitor radio traffic, maintaining contact with field units and relaying information as necessary
  • Prioritize and coordinate the response of multiple agencies to ensure an efficient and effective response
  • Keep callers updated on the status of responding units and estimated time of arrival
  • Remain calm and professional at all times, providing reassurance to callers in distress
  • Handle high-stress situations with composure and make quick decisions under pressure
  • Follow up with callers after the incident has been resolved to ensure their satisfaction
  • Maintain confidentiality of all information gathered during the course of a call
  • Complete required documentation and paperwork accurately and in a timely manner
  • Participate in regular training and development opportunities to keep skills up-to-date

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven customer service experience
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Strong multitasking and organizational skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and other computer applications

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher
  • Previous experience as a 911 dispatcher or in a related field
  • Bilingual (fluent in Spanish and English)
  • Certification from the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) or Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO)

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