Public Safety Telecommunicators

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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 PUBLIC SAFETY TELECOMMUNICATOR CAREERS
Video transcript

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
Operate telephone, radio, or other communication systems to receive and communicate requests for emergency assistance at 9-1-1 public safety answering points and emergency operations centers. Take information from the public and other sources regarding crimes, threats, disturbances, acts of terrorism, fires, medical emergencies, and other public safety matters. May coordinate and provide information to law enforcement and emergency response personnel. May access sensitive databases and other information sources as needed. May provide additional instructions to callers based on knowledge of and certification in law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical procedures.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
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
Daily tasks

Learn material and pass required tests for certification.

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.

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.

Maintain access to, and security of, highly sensitive materials.

Determine response requirements and relative priorities of situations, and dispatch units in accordance with established procedures.

Scan status charts and computer screens, and contact emergency response field units to determine emergency units available for dispatch.

Read and effectively interpret small-scale maps and information from a computer screen to determine locations and provide directions.

Record details of calls, dispatches, and messages.

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.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
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.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
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.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
AREAS OF 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.
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.
Telecommunications Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
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.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
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.
Geography Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
TOP 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.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
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.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.