Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers

Description

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.

Tasks

  • Question callers to determine their locations, and the nature of their problems to determine type of response needed.
  • Receive incoming telephone or alarm system calls regarding emergency and non-emergency police and fire service, emergency ambulance service, information and after hours calls for departments within a city.
  • Determine response requirements and relative priorities of situations, and dispatch units in accordance with established procedures.
  • Record details of calls, dispatches, and messages.
  • Enter, update, and retrieve information from teletype networks and computerized data systems regarding such things as wanted persons, stolen property, vehicle registration, and stolen vehicles.
  • Maintain access to, and security of, highly sensitive materials.
  • Relay information and messages to and from emergency sites, to law enforcement agencies, and to all other individuals or groups requiring notification.
  • Scan status charts and computer screens, and contact emergency response field units to determine emergency units available for dispatch.
  • Observe alarm registers and scan maps to determine whether a specific emergency is in the dispatch service area.
  • Maintain files of information relating to emergency calls such as personnel rosters, and emergency call-out and pager files.
  • Monitor various radio frequencies such as those used by public works departments, school security, and civil defense to keep apprised of developing situations.
  • Learn material and pass required tests for certification.
  • Read and effectively interpret small-scale maps and information from a computer screen to determine locations and provide directions.
  • Answer routine inquiries, and refer calls not requiring dispatches to appropriate departments and agencies.
  • Test and adjust communication and alarm systems, and report malfunctions to maintenance units.
  • Provide emergency medical instructions to callers.
  • Monitor alarm systems to detect emergencies such as fires and illegal entry into establishments.
  • Operate and maintain mobile dispatch vehicles and equipment.

Knowledge

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Clerical
Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Telecommunications
Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
English Language
Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Skills

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Coordination
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Abilities

Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Selective Attention
The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.

Work Activities

Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Work Context

Telephone
How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
Contact With Others
How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
Spend Time Sitting
How much does this job require sitting?
Frequency of Decision Making
How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
Deal With External Customers
How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate
How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled
How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results
How do the decisions an employee makes impact the results of co-workers, clients or the company?
Consequence of Error
How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?
Face-to-Face Discussions
How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?

Interests

Conventional
Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
Realistic
Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
Enterprising
Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
Social
Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
Investigative
Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
Artistic
Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Work Style

Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
Self Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Persistence
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Social Orientation
Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Work Values

Relationships
Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
Support
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
Achievement
Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Independence
Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Working Conditions
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Recognition
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Lay Titles

911 Dispatcher
911 Emergency Dispatcher
911 Emergency Services Dispatcher
911 Operator
911 Operator (Nine One One Operator)
911 Public Safety Dispatcher
911 Telecommunicator
Alarm Operator
Call Person
Call Taker
Communications Officer
Communications Operator
Communications Specialist
Communications Supervisor
Dispatch Manager
Dispatcher
Electronic Telecommunication Dispatcher (ETD)
Emergency Communications Dispatcher
Emergency Communications Officer (ECO)
Emergency Communications Operator (ECO)
Emergency Communications Technician
Emergency Medical Dispatcher
Emergency Operator
Emergency Telecommunications Dispatcher (ETD)
Fire Dispatcher
Fire Fighters Dispatcher
Forest Fire Fighters Dispatcher
Law Enforcement Technician
Medical Dispatcher
Patrol Telecommunicator
Police Communications Dispatcher
Police Communications Operator
Police Dispatcher
Police Radio Dispatcher
Protective Signal Operator
Public Safety Dispatcher
Public Safety Telecommunicator
Radio Dispatcher
Telecommunications Specialist
Telecommunicator

National Wages and Employment Info

Median Wages (2008):
$17.45 hourly, $36,300 annual.
Employment (2008):
95,640 employees