911 Dispatch, Any Advice? [Archive] - Glock Talk

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kma1005
06-12-2009, 03:18
I am applying to become a 911 dispatcher in my area. I have applied at several agencies.

Are there any words of advice current or ex-dispatchers would like to share with someone about to enter this area of public safety?

blaster_54738
06-13-2009, 02:28
remain calm and use your head, but i'm new myself, been doing it for about 6 months. we are police fire and ems so it helped that i have experience in all 3 fields. i enjoy it very much, good feeling being as young as i am having my first full time job and knowing it will be my only one. oh and it's nice during slow times we can do things like this, i'm actually working right now.

Bevo1
06-13-2009, 02:51
It takes a very special person, of which I am not.
In my 16 years in LE, it seems women make better dispatchers.
They don't get paid as much as patrol.
I think they should make at least double.
When I relieve the dispatcher for her lunch break, I literally watch the clock for her to come back.
That being said, there is nothing like a good dispatcher. It makes you feel safer on calls when you know there is someone in the radio room that cares.

Just saw "current or ex dispatchers". Sorry, never been a full time dispatcher, just fill in from time to time.

smokeeater495
06-13-2009, 19:42
I hope you get the job. As a career Firefighter and now Captain I talk to our dispatchers regularly. The good ones are the dispatchers that remain calm and pronounce their words correctly. Nothing makes my job more difficult than to have to ask the dispatcher to repeat info because they talked too fast, not loud enough, or pronounced their words like Mushmouth from Fat Albert. Find a copy of the Firefighter TV show "Emergency", listen to the dispatcher on one of those episodes. That guy is what I would like to hear when things get stressed, he's like a machine. The good dispatchers I work with are the same way, they never get excited. It carries over to everyone else when someone gets freaked out on the radio, don't let it happen. Try to ride along with the units you will be working with whether it's fire, ems, or police. It will give you a much better understanding of whats going on when Truck 19 ,Medic 6, or unit 101 are talking to you.

RyanNREMTP
06-14-2009, 11:51
I was a dispatcher for eight years, expect to gain some weight sitting on your butt.

Jeremy_K
06-15-2009, 08:28
It really does require a special type of person. You have to be very patient, do well under pressure, and be able to multi task. You'll need to make quick decisions and be able to prioritize incoming calls. I can't do any of those things so I'm just a dumb firefighter. I have spent some time in dispatch either in the military or now as a civilian I just fill in as needed. You'll be dealing with people like you see on TV dialing 911 because Burger King didn't super size their fries. Working on a military installation I have to deal with people calling who think they're important while I'm trying to talk to crews on the radio. I couldn't do it as a career. I'd snap.

kma1005
06-15-2009, 23:34
Well I am currently a Detention Officer, I have the patience or else I'd have killed someone in this job :supergrin:

Unfortunately I checked today and the position I was going to turn my application in for on Wednesday, is now closed :(

Oh well I've been checking all the areas around me, this is something I want to do.

Does anyone know if they allow people to sit in with them? Like a ride-along with the police.

Maybe since I'm already LE they will. Also sitting on my butt isn't an issue, see the above title, Detention Officer = sit on your butt a great deal.

blaster_54738
06-17-2009, 07:23
Well I am currently a Detention Officer, I have the patience or else I'd have killed someone in this job :supergrin:

Unfortunately I checked today and the position I was going to turn my application in for on Wednesday, is now closed :(

Oh well I've been checking all the areas around me, this is something I want to do.

Does anyone know if they allow people to sit in with them? Like a ride-along with the police.

Maybe since I'm already LE they will. Also sitting on my butt isn't an issue, see the above title, Detention Officer = sit on your butt a great deal.


I was required to sit and watch for 24 hours when I was behing hired part time. A lot of departments around here require you to sit in to make sure you'll like the job before they'll put $$$ into you from training so I wouldn't think it would be an issue for you.

10-65
07-02-2009, 22:44
I am applying to become a 911 dispatcher in my area. I have applied at several agencies.

Are there any words of advice current or ex-dispatchers would like to share with someone about to enter this area of public safety?

I won't sugarcoat, nor rain on your parade, but I will offer this as a bit of a reality check for when you finally start to settle in:

People don't call you to tell you how good their day was.

People expect you to be all-knowing, all-seeing, able to get them help in a minute flat, answer the call before the first ring, no matter how short-staffed or overburdened you, your co-workers, or the road patrol/fire/ems are at that given moment in time.

You will find occasional joy in hearing relief of a mother whom you just had to provide instructions for their choking infant.

You will find occasional grief in hearing the cries of a wife who just discovered her nearly-headless husband lying in a pool of blood next to a 12-gauge.

Those times of grief will far outnumber those times of joy.

Many times you'll go from one such call straight into the other, and being a true telecommunications professional means making the transition without skipping a beat.

You will be in a constant fight between internal operating procedure and external public opinion.

You will be in a constant fight between internal operating procedure and road patrol/fire/ems expectations.

You will learn that internal operating procedure and common operating sense often go in far different directions.

You'll start to wonder why the same wife calls reporting haven being beaten by her husband, week after week.

Contrary to public belief, the calls reporting an absense of chicken nuggets with their order are actually a source of comic relief.

Contrary to public belief, calls reporting an absense of chicken nuggets with their order happen far, far more often than what the news media reports.

Outrageous and outlandish calls such as those reporting an absense of chicken nuggets with their order happen more often in one night on your shift than the news media reports in a month.

EMS does not respond to sick animals. If it's an emergency, contact a local emergency animal hospital. (Sorry, no, I'm not allowed to recommend one. They kill Fufu, you sue me.)

No matter how many times you mention over the radio that the call was received from a disconnected (911 outdial-only) cellphone, the road will still ask you to call the complainant back and have them step out.

After taking enough calls from the locals, you will soon begin to think that English is the real foreign language.

After taking enough calls from the homeless, the idea that they'd rather stay on the streets than have to sober up for the homeless shelter begins to make sense.

At some point, you will have caught yourself talking in codes to the drive-through speaker.

Red Bull becomes one of the four main food groups. The other three: Coffee, Dennys, and foot. (If you're good, "foot" doesn't happen too often. If you're great, never.)

And last, but not least, three words: National Telecommunications Week. :whistling:


Good luck with the other agencies, I'm sure as a current Detention Officer you should have no problems getting in. And I would definitely look into getting a "ride-along", if the agencies allow it. Make sure it's what you think you'd be comfortable doing for hours on end.

pysaki
07-04-2009, 16:08
+1 to everything 10-65 said. Blaster, where are you in WI? Maybe we share mutual aid units?

boarsblood
07-05-2009, 20:13
I've done dispatch a few times when absolutely necessary. It's a tough job. More stressful than working the street IMHO. Good luck.

blaster_54738
07-06-2009, 11:46
+1 to everything 10-65 said. Blaster, where are you in WI? Maybe we share mutual aid units?

trempealeau county

pysaki
07-07-2009, 19:54
ahh. Milwaukee Co. Here. Can we borrow one of your med rigs?

blaster_54738
07-07-2009, 20:11
ahh. Milwaukee Co. Here. Can we borrow one of your med rigs?

haha sure, got one right on I94. i'll get em rollin, eta of about 3 hours or so if running code, otherwise about 4:rofl:

tampashooters
07-11-2009, 10:19
It's highly stressful and you'd better be good at multi-tasking. Documentation is the key to saving your butt. Also, remember, dispatch is normally the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong, even if it was done right........ Be careful.

Finally, If you don't like babysitting, you may not like dispatching. Keeping track of adults in cars with guns, is a full time job in itself... Yes, Officers like to screw around alot!

matsig
07-11-2009, 17:36
You will be grossly underpaid for the responsibility you take on.
watch this clip. You will work for people who have no business being in charge(this is slowly changing but many Comm Managers got the job just by being there longest).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npwtnQhcD1A

Yes, thats me on the phone with the lady trapped in the burning building.

larry_minn
07-12-2009, 01:07
Personally I don't think I could do it for a high volume area. I took training in college. Campus Security with actually good program. Actual training for dispatch as well as for guards. Using 10 codes, how to give radio reports and a requirement to call everything in. I.E. 10-6 (inroute) 10-14 (checking exterior) 10-15 (inside) so normal evening you would fill 4 pages of log. (plus students/family calling for everything from noise at 2am to rape.)

It served me well in EMS. I took over dispatch only to let dispatch have a break. (normal there was 3 squads on road) It was just enough to give me a small taste of what a big city would be like. good luck with it.

seagravedriver
07-13-2009, 23:04
Matsig, NICE WORK!

Being in fire and EMS for over 20 years, I don't feel, I know that dispatchers are way underated for what they do. They can make or break you, make you look good, or bad. A good one is awsome.

If you are good at it, run with it. If you happen to be a good in corrections, or LE, or a good firefighter or medic, that does not make you a good dispatcher.

Be clear, be concise, be calm.

matsig
07-15-2009, 06:08
Seagrave,
I wish I could say that this fire had a major impact on our training. Management actually shortened the training program after this fire ensuring that the field units wouldn't have many good dispatchers.

FM12
08-11-2009, 08:30
Your first and main coi\ncern is the people on the other end of your radio, not the people on the telephone. Don;t let the phone overide the radio, ever.

Be as courteous as you can to the sheeple you serve, and be doggedly devoted to those you serve. It really is a service position, by the way.

FiremanMike
08-11-2009, 16:21
No one likes a snide dispatcher.

That said, don't ever, EVER lose trucks. Nothing causes me to lose faith in a dispatcher quicker than one that is clueless to where I am. If it's hectic and you are pulled 14 different ways, start writing down quick notes to keep track of where trucks are. In my mind, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, comes before keeping track of the guys you are supposed to be organizing.

"Medic 151 checking your response.." "Medic 151 we're en route to the hospital...." "Oh.. disregard.. M152 respond to..." <grrr>

StreetDoctor
08-28-2009, 09:07
Well as you can see here, and in the pet peeve's threads. Lots of people in LE, Fire, and Ambulance service have specific ideas of what the 'ideal' dispatcher is.
I would first suggest you are a good study of people. Read the posts above pay special attention to 10 65's post, which is quite in depth.
Then decide if you like being in a room full of 5 year olds, all screaming for what they want. (I am not saying that the units are 5yo or acting like kids.) I am saying it is that busy! You have to keep your units, their locations, their status' in your head. If you have units responding hot to calls, you have to have a good idea when they should be close to arriving. Thus you can have an idea when they might be over due, and should check on their status. If they TA, they might not be able to answer. You have to be knowledgeable ennough of the areas that you have an idea what route they took and know where to send search parties.
As you can see they can be easily pissed off, so your study of human charector is tantamount of knowing what not to say.
Clear concise communication is very important.
My years in dispatch taught me it is a pressure cooker. Some of the best dispatchers I know are 'hamsters on speed'. They keep every unit in every county in their head, calls they are on, and where they were, are going, and where they likely are now while en route.
One in particular could dial a push button phone twice as fast as the speed dialer. I tested it, and he was!
Put on your thick skin, you will be yelled at, cursed at, and expected to know everything about anything, and have the information 'Yesterday'.
You have to care about your crews, you have to worry like a mother about them.
Good luck, and God bless

GuardianRN
09-25-2009, 22:15
matsig----Just listening to that call remided me of the sheer terror I felt not being able to respond to a call myself. You were phenomenal on that call.

My FIRST solo night shift in a city of about 2,800---***Fair warning to all-----don't be in a serious relationship with the officer you dispatch!*** lol

I had 2 PD in my town on duty that night, total of 9 including surrounding areas and County Deputies--all but 1 officer was on other calls or at the other end of the county with 10-15s. I dispatched my one guy to a domestic call in mid-town in a nice community; ETOH involved, but the fight was only verbal with no weapons reported. Since he wasn't being backed-up anytime soon, about 3-4 mins after my guy arrived, I checked status. No answer. Not a big deal, my officer was 6'6", weighed around 275-285, and was a martial arts black belt. Checked again in 1 min. Still no answer. I had keyed up for the 3rd check, when my ENTIRE call board lit up like a dang Christmas tree! "SHOTS FIRED" and the name of the road/subdivision I dispatched him to was all I now remember actually hearing....but apparently the training I'd received kicked in....

I hit every single tone I could find! Officers from my city, the 4 surrounding communities, 2 counties, and notified State. I also toned out Fire and EMS and reported the shots fired and no officer response---this was NOT a secured scene. The closest officer (off-duty and in his POV) was still 3-5 minutes away, and that was running KY-style Code 3!

Ya know that thing about clear and concise speech??? Apparently mine was, only with triple the KY twang in my voice. (They made me listen to the tapeafterwards--I was worse than Dolly Parton mixed with Elly Mae Clampett!)

Long story short, the male party fired a couple rounds into the air before he tossed the gun out into the yard. My guy tackled him off the front porch, both got tangled in the rose bushes, and his shoulder mike, holder, and epaulet (and part of his uniform shirt) got ripped off---pulled the radio right out of his utility belt. He was fine (minus a few briar scratches and torn shirt), but he couldn't answer his status check.

I was told I actually handled the situation well, esp for my 1st night shift with that situation. I STILL have NEVER lived down the, "AWWL reeceevin uunits, muwlteepull reeports of shawts farred at awwfficur's lowcaashun......"