Emergency dispatchers are the first people you get to talk to when you call an emergency hotline. It is their job to communicate your situation to other emergency departments for them to be able to help you. Hence, it takes an enormous amount of skills to become an emergency dispatcher.
Responsibilities Of An Emergency Dispatcher
The job of a dispatcher does not end with just taking calls. They have a wide variety of duties similar to any other occupation. That is why it is essential for any person who is considering to become one to know what they are getting themselves into.
The responsibilities of an emergency dispatcher include: (1)
- Answering emergency calls or other emergencies.
- Gathering the details concerning the emergency situation such as time, location, and type of emergency.
- Relay the information to the responsible department.
- Coordinate between the emergency department and the victims.
- For emergency medical situations, they are also expected to give first aid instructions.
- Record the emergency.
Emergency dispatchers may not be the ones who face the danger head-on, but they are responsible for making sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Without them, communications between emergency personnel and victims would be crippled.
Steps In Becoming An Emergency Dispatcher
Step 1: Get A Highschool Diploma
Most, if not all, dispatch departments require their applicants to have at least a high school diploma. They require this level of education to assure that their personnel are competent enough and have the proper skills to deal with emergency situations.
Some dispatch departments may even prefer those with two or fours year college degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers prefer applicants who graduated in any course related to criminal justice, communications, or computer science.
Lastly, an applicant who is capable of speaking a foreign language has a clear advantage. It would help departments address issues wherein victims are non-US citizens. So, if you have enough spare time, consider taking quick foreign language courses.
Step 2: Submit All The Necessary Documents
Applying for a job as an emergency dispatcher is no different to applying for other jobs. You will need to submit a resume and go through the same interview process as everyone else. Emergency departments will also do a background check on you to make sure that you have a clean criminal record.
In some cases, you will undergo some form of examination about your typing and communication skills. Otherwise, you can submit certifications that may prove your proficiency for these skills.
Step 3: Undergo The Dispatcher Training Program
If you are suitable enough for them to accept you, you will then need to undergo a rigorous training. This training is to ensure that you are physically, and mentally capable of handling stressful situations. (1)
Most training typically takes at least forty hours to finish. It will consist of in class and on the job training to provide you an idea of the scenarios that you may face. The topics your officers will teach you are often about communications, laws and legalities, and emergency responses.
Step 4: Continue Improving Your Skills
It is recommended, or even required for emergency dispatcher to undergo continuing education. A dispatcher may also be required to participate regularly in seminars or certifications that may add to their skill set. These certifications may also, later on, prove valuable if you wish to further your career.
Step 5: Apply For Higher Positions
After becoming an emergency dispatcher, you have the option to rise to higher positions. However, before applying for a promotion, make sure that you have at least a few years of experience as a dispatcher. Furthermore, most employers require their administrative staffs to have a bachelor or even master’s degree.