911 Dispatcher Jobs
Have you ever called 911? It’s a situation that nobody wants to be in. But thank goodness that service is available across the country. The 911 number is a national emergency number that allows citizens to get in touch with emergency services. No matter where you are you can call 911 and the voice of an emergency dispatcher will be there to assist you.
Emergency dispatchers, or 911 operators, field emergency calls and dispatch the appropriate emergency service – Fire, EMS, or Police. They receive 1000s of calls every single day. It’s a crucial job that must be filled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.
Emergencies are no fun, but they happen. An emergency dispatcher is the first person to speak with someone at the scene of an emergency. It’s their duty to record the name, location, and phone number of the caller, the location of the emergency, the nature of the problem, and any special circumstances. Next they have to determine if this is a true emergency where police, fire, or ambulance services are necessary. Note – information about working for the fire department is in another section of JobMonkey.
Emergency dispatchers must remain calm and collected. Even if the caller is panicked, the emergency dispatcher is the voice of reason and authority. They must record information accurately, ask follow-up questions, dispatch the proper services, and possibly give advice and directions to the caller.
The 911 national emergency number allows people to call 911 and be directed to a public safety answering point, also called a 911 call center, for any and all emergencies. Every 911 call is different and a 911 operator must assess each call individually. They deal with emergency calls about car accidents, fires, burglaries, assaults, domestic violence, births, or health issues. These problems need immediate assistance. They also deal with non-emergency calls like noise complaints or pranks. Operators must learn to distinguish what is an emergency and what is not.
Emergency dispatchers rely on technology. The e911 system associates telephone numbers with locations and directs calls to the closest call center.
Satellite vehicle locaters help determine where accidents occur. Computers help with address checks and map searches. The 911 service and its technology are funded by fees on our phone bills. Technology brings help faster.
Contact the local call center to find out what the requirements are for the job.
Usually the job requires a high school education with good communication skills, customer service, multi-tasking abilities, accuracy, and quick typing. Being bilingual is a huge asset. These skills are important because all calls are recorded for quality and become legal records.
Emergency dispatchers work in law enforcement. They are the first line of emergency care and must be honest, trustworthy people. All applicants go through skill tests, interviews, and background tests that include polygraphs, and psychological evaluations. Usually, employers conduct training, but there are certifications offered by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch.
Police departments, fire stations, and EMS will hire emergency dispatchers to work at one of over 6000 public safety answering points or call centers in the US. Busier areas like New York City will need more dispatchers than small towns like Edgerton, Missouri. There are always several operators on duty in order to field multiple calls at the same time.
Emergency dispatchers will stay busy during an 8 to 12 hour shift. They need to be ready to work 24/7. A 911 operator will make about $34,000 per year.
Emergency dispatchers handle emergency and non-emergency calls all day. They log a lot of time on the telephone, but at the end of the day they can feel satisfied knowing that they helped make the world a safer place.
Quick Facts About Emergency Dispatch Work
Job Title: 911 Operator or Emergency Dispatcher
Office: Public Safety Answering Point or Call Center
Description: Field emergency calls, enter data, and dispatch Fire, EMS, or Police
Certifications/Education: High school education. May need certification
Necessary Skills: Multi-Tasking, Customer Service, Cool under pressure
Potential Employers: Police, EMS, Fire, 911 call centers
Pay: $34,000 per year