How To Become A 911 Dispatcher

The Essential Guide To All The Job Requirements Needed To Become A 911 Dispatcher

911 dispatchers play a vital link in the emergency services as they act as the connection between law enforcements, medical services (where required), and the people who need these services. You may not have ever needed the services of a 911 dispatcher, but the chances are you will have heard of the experiences had by these significant professionals. Of course, they are very stressful positions and not as laid-back as being someone in an administrative career; however, they are essential and the job can be very rewarding. This article will provide information on how to become a 911 dispatcher and the different skills and training required to enter this industry.

The Different Skills

As a professional 911 dispatcher, you will be required to handle a plethora of telephone calls in a short period of time. In addition to managing these calls effectively, you must be able to handle the calls while maintaining a positive and caring attitude – no-one wants to speak to a stressed emergency operator. To meet these requirements, it is essential that you remain calm at all times. To remain calm, you will need strong communication skills and have the ability to follow proper protocol when completing specific duties.

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When facing extreme and dire emergencies, it is essential that you are able to maintain contact with the caller until assistance arrives. It is vital that you help the caller remain calm using strong communication skills. This has been noted as one of the most difficult tasks as you must be sympathetic, practical, and able to reduce feelings of stress for both the caller and yourself.

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To be a 911 emergency dispatcher, it is necessary to have specific certification with a minimum of one year training. Obviously, you must have graduated high school or earned your GED as a required qualification. Many employees tend to favor candidates who have some experience in public safety, clerical services, or as a phone operator.

The Different Training Required

As is mentioned, it is necessary to have a certain degree and type of training to become a 911 dispatcher. Nowadays, there are various types of courses available to prepare you for this career, many of which can be gained through emergency dispatch associations. It is also possible to complete emergency dispatch training courses through community colleges. The most common qualification completed is a two year program resulting in an associate degree in public safety from community colleges. Whichever qualification you choose, you will receive both instructional and practical experience revolving around dispatch protocol. Training will also be provided in the basis of public safety and training on how to function in challenging emergency situations. This will ensure you have skills in strong, calming communication.

While certification in emergency dispatching protocol is an advantage, it is not necessarily a mandatory requirement to become a 911 dispatcher. When applying for the dispatching job it is important to complete some research into the career requirements. Some common requirements revolving around different types of training include:

  • Clean driving record.
  • Clear criminal background.
  • Computer literacy
  • Typing speed of 45 wpm.

It is also necessary to be at least 18 years of age with evidence of being able to handle stressful situations.

How Are 911 Dispatchers Trained?

If there’s something strange in the neighborhood, who you gonna call? It’s definitely not Ghostbusters. Unlike the 1984 movie Ghostbusters, the greatest threats in our society are most definitely not ghosts, but everyday dangers, and circumstances.

In times that we need help, whether for life-threatening or stressful situations, there are people we can actually call to help us out, and they’re called emergency dispatch personnel. They are the humble people whose face we cannot see and are hardly recognized for their hard work.

Emergency dispatch personnel save thousands of lives every day by just picking up the phone and doing their best to help the person on the other side of the line. However, the only way they could do this is if they actually know how to do their job.

A rigorous training is necessary for someone to be able to think up the best recourse in dire situations. In life or death situations every second count. Hence, emergency dispatchers are trained to be able to think of a solution in the shortest time possible.

It is also important for a dispatcher to have excellent communication skills because it is their job to communicate critical information and coordinate the emergency personnel.

What are the Requirements Before Training as a 911 Dispatcher?

Listed below are the major requirements before being allowed to go through the 911 dispatcher training program:

Educational Attainment

Most dispatch centers do not require applicants to have a bachelor or associate’s degree. However, this is most definitely a plus since a degree can signify a candidate has undergone previous training in some aspects that may be helpful to them being a 911 dispatcher.

Dispatch centers per state can vary according to their local legislation. But generally, a high school diploma would be sufficient to get accepted. (1)

Criminal History and Background

The requirements for applicants for becoming a 911 dispatcher include having a clean record. This is to assure that there are no conflicts of interest. They are also required to undergo a lie detector test to ensure that the things they are saying are true.

Physical Fitness and Health

To be allowed to undergo training, candidates are required to prove that they are physically able to perform their duties. This includes mental, psychological, and physical fitness. Applicants are required to have a vision and hearing test before their application. They must also have enough physical fortitude to stay calm in emergency situations.

Citizenship Requirements

Only United States Citizens are allowed to apply for 911 Dispatcher training.

Necessary Skills to Become a 911 Dispatcher

Dispatchers get tons of calls every day; it is important that they attain the necessary skills not just to address these calls properly, but also to maintain a healthy mindset and create a healthy working environment.

Some of the skills required of 911 dispatchers include a strong empathy skill. A strong empathy skill will enable a dispatcher to immerse themselves in the situation of the other person on the other end of the line. This makes formulating a proper approach easier and more effectively.

They are also required to have a strong communication skill to avoid miscommunications between them, the victims, and the dispatch team. Two of the most important skills are having good leadership and problem-solving skills. Other important skills are good typing skills and expertise in dispatch computer-aided software.

911 Dispatcher Training

Most states require dispatchers to have a training certificate before they start working. However, even those that do not still require that their dispatchers undergo some training. Dispatchers are trained in two instances- before they start working and during the duration of their employment. (2)

Some of the subjects included in their training are:

  1. 911 Dispatcher Roles and Responsibilities– dispatchers should know where their job begins, and where it ends.
  2. Human Anatomy and Physiology– enables dispatchers to know how to approach various types of bodily injuries.
  3. Stress Management– their job deals with very stressful situations; this is why dispatchers themselves need to be able to handle stress without breaking down in the middle of an emergency.
  4. Obtaining Information from Callers– knowing every detail of an emergency enables a dispatcher to communicate the most effective and efficient approach to a problem.
  5. Resource Allocation
  6. Quality Assurance and Recertification
  7. National and State Standards for EMD
  8. Legal and Liability Issues in EMD

Dispatchers are also required to take a 40-hour training course in telecommunications. This includes instructions on how to use communication equipment, verbal training, and actual emergency simulations.

Being a 911 dispatcher is no easy job, but with these training programs, you can rest assured that in the case that you’d need to call them you’re talking to someone who’s well equipped to get you out of trouble.