911 Telecommunicators/Dispatchers answer all 911 calls, which include emergency, and non-emergency calls for police, fire, and emergency medical services. They determine the appropriate call types and course of action based on the nature of the calls. Telecommunicators/Dispatcher then enter information into the computer and relay it to the appropriate agency (Ambulance, Fire, Law Enforcement).
There are numerous traits that a Telecommunicator must possess in order to function well here at the 911 Center.
These traits include:
- Ability to think quickly
- Ability to work under stressful conditions
- Clear speech
- Hearing accuracy
- Ability to listen carefully
- Visual acuity
- Ability to deal with the public and user agencies
- Ability to remember oral and written instructions
- Ability to follow instructions
- Ability to sit for long periods of time
- Ability to write clearly and spell correctly
- Typing skills or keyboard familiarity
- Ability to remain calm while dealing with frightened, hysterical or angry callers
911 Dispatchers/Telecommunicator monitor radio frequencies, set priorities among incoming events and dispatch the police to necessary locations using both radios and computers. They keep the accurate status of the exact location of equipment and personnel by maintaining radio contact. Dispatchers also serve as 911 Telecommunicators/Dispatcher as needed.
Today’s dispatcher is, in fact, an information processor. That requires more than just sending and receiving messages. Effective dispatching also demands:
Dispatchers must do what is difficult for most people: actively listen. Dispatchers devote their total energy and concentration to understanding the meaning (what is said and what is meant may not always be the same) of the words and sounds at the other end of the radio. The dispatcher’s personal attitudes and feelings have no place in emergency communications.
Dispatchers ask questions to determine where, what, who, how, why and what should/can/might be done in a multitude of circumstances, circumstances in which the message sender often assumes erroneously that the answers are obvious.
Clarifying & Verifying
Dispatchers make sure answers to questions are clear, complete and precise. If an answer is “far”, the dispatcher wants to know how far. If an altercation is at “the door”, the dispatcher wants to know which door – and “how many doors are there?”. The dispatcher knows that action based on incomplete or inaccurate information may be inappropriate or dangerous.
Dispatchers establish priorities of importance in seeking and passing on information and directing and coordinating action. There may not always be time to obtain or to send all the relevant data, so the most essential information is obtained and/or transmitted first. There may also not always be enough officers or equipment to handle all the calls concurrently, so the dispatcher makes judgments as to the order in which action should be taken.
Organizing, Coordinating and Directing
Dispatchers often organize action, determine who goes where and when and who is responsible for what. In the course of action, they may coordinate the activities of various people and units. Anticipating and Compensating Dispatchers understand and anticipate the many ways in which misunderstanding may occur. They compensate for other people’s existing and potential confusion, lack of information and lack of understanding.
Dispatchers remember random, often seemingly unrelated bits of information for future reference. They integrate potentially useful data from files and other sources into current situations.
To handle all their responsibilities skillfully, dispatchers are able to identify with the ways others may perceive situations; to look at events through the eyes of others; to relate information in context other people will understand and visualize correctly.