Emergency Dispatch Program Careers
Emergency dispatchers can be considered as everyone’s first life line when unforeseen events happen. Their efficiency and effectiveness can spell the difference between life and death. That is why it is no wonder why many of our heroic fellow men and women choose the noble life of an emergency dispatcher.
“Fire, EMS, police, sheriff, all that is public safety. They’re limbs on the public safety body. 911 is the heart of that body. If it’s messed up the rest of the body doesn’t work good”
-Albany Fire Department Chief Ron Rowe.
The United States’ emergency hotline “9-1-1” was founded in 1957 after the National Association of Fire Chiefs suggested the need of a universal hotline for reporting fires. Since then, the government has adopted the program as a means to improve emergency response nationwide. (1)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 102,000 emergency dispatchers across the U.S. Sadly, due to changing career paths of younger generations, and the stressful nature of the job, fewer people are willing to work in dispatch centers. The same organization expects a 3% drop in employment come 2024, or down to 99,000. (2)
However, for people who find their calling in helping others reach authorities, this can be seen as a great opportunity. This article aims to introduce you to various career paths in the emergency dispatch industry.
Emergency Dispatch Careers
911 Dispatch Operators
911 Dispatchers, also known as public safety telecommunicators, are the first people that communicate with callers. They are the ones who are responsible for taking calls and assessing what action is best for the situation at hand.
Being the ones who are required to talk to people in distress, 911 dispatchers are required to have sharp memories to be able to accumulate as much data as possible. They possess high analytical prowess which helps them assess and decide which action suits the situation best quickly.
It is also necessary that they train their communication skills so that they can communicate the status of the situation clearly, and so that the caller would be able to understand their instructions better.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median income of 911 dispatchers to be around $18.69 an hour, or an annual pay of $38,870. The top ten percentile, however, earn as much as $56,580. Most dispatch centers require applicants to have at least a high school diploma. (2)
Dispatch Center Supervisors
The main job description of supervisors is to communicate the objectives of the dispatch center to other members of the organization. They oversee the efficiency of the different members of the team to minimize downtimes.
911 Supervisors are required to have an overall knowledge of various sectors because they are often the ones approached by staff members to ask questions. Lastly, they communicate the status of the dispatch center to superiors on a daily basis.
Supervisors need to have excellent communication skills, both in talking and listening. They need to show objectivity and fairness among his subordinates. The last thing 911 dispatchers would want to feel is that their supervisor prefers another over them. Lastly, they need to be fast and smart decision makers. Every second count when someone’s life is literally on the line. (3)
Supervisor salaries can range widely depending on different states and providers. The average range, however, can be between $40,000- $50,000.
Training Supervisors are the ones who help newly recruited dispatchers to help them adjust to the work environment. It is necessary that what they teach is consistent among different recruits to avoid conflicts in the future. They also train dispatchers on how to properly handle various situations and the techniques on how to approach every call.
Training supervisors need to have a high level of patience and communications skills. They need to master how to become a dispatcher themselves to show trainees how to do things properly. Most training supervisors often start as dispatchers themselves.
Technicians are the ones in charge of making sure that every equipment is working and properly maintained. It would be next to impossible for dispatchers to function properly without them. Their technical knowledge is essential for the efficiency of the work place.
Com techs need to have updated knowledge on new equipment that can be used to replace outdated ones in the center. They need to have excellent communication skills for them to teach everyone how to handle various equipment properly. Most communication technicians are graduates of communication engineering.
Every single one of these positions is necessary for a dispatch center to work correctly for citizens. If anyone of them is missing, it would be impossible for dispatchers to cater to the emergencies that are called to them every day.
These jobs may be stressful at sometimes, however, besides the considerable high pay they get, the fulfilling thought of being able to help save someone’s life is something incomparable.