Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers

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Also known as:  911 Dispatcher, 911 Operator, Ambulance Dispatcher, Emergency Communications Dispatcher, Emergency Communications Operator, Emergency Operator, Emergency Telecommunications Dispatcher, Fire Dispatcher, Police Dispatcher, Police Radio Dispatcher

ABOUT POLICE, FIRE, OR AMBULANCE DISPATCHER CAREERS

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT Expand
Whenever there's an emergency, someone has to take the "911" call, get the details from the caller, and decide which resources should be activated and sent to the scene. That's the job of police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers. Also known as public safety dispatchers, these workers need to be able ...
to question the callers to determine the nature, seriousness, and location of the emergency.

They must then prioritize the incident and decide which units should be sent. Often, a dispatcher will also remain on the phone, telling the caller what to do and possibly giving first-aid instructions when an ambulance is on its way.

An ability to remain cool under pressure is essential, along with skill in calming distraught callers and getting them to provide vital information. Stress levels can be quite high. But without police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, public safety services simply couldn't respond to emergencies. That makes this occupation absolutely essential.
SNAPSHOT Expand
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.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
HIGH
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
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DAILY TASKS Expand
Learn material and pass required tests for certification.
Test and adjust communication and alarm systems, and report malfunctions to maintenance units.
Maintain access to, and security of, highly sensitive materials.
Read and effectively interpret small-scale maps and information from a computer screen to determine locations and provide directions.
Monitor various radio frequencies such as those used by public works departments, school security, and civil defense to keep apprised of developing situations.
Observe alarm registers and scan maps to determine whether a specific emergency is in the dispatch service area.
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.
Maintain files of information relating to emergency calls such as personnel rosters, and emergency call-out and pager files.
Relay information and messages to and from emergency sites, to law enforcement agencies, and to all other individuals or groups requiring notification.
Answer routine inquiries, and refer calls not requiring dispatches to appropriate departments and agencies.
Record details of calls, dispatches, and messages.
MAIN ACTIVITIES Expand
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
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.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
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.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE Expand
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.
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.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
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.
Law and Government Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Communications and Media Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
KEY ABILITIES Expand
Speech Recognition The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Speech Clarity The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
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.
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.
Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
TOP SKILLS Expand
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.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
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