Have you saved a life lately?
Are you an individual who can remain calm and make quick, sound judgments in emergency situations? Are you looking for an exciting career in a public safety profession? You should consider a career in public safety dispatching. Dispatchers are a critical element in the team that brings law enforcement, fire protection, emergency medical care, and other public safety agencies to the community. They are the heart of the 9-1-1 system of Cass County.
Public safety dispatchers must work with a high degree of judgment and independence; they must be able to evaluate emergency situations and make split-second decisions regarding the type of response appropriate for the circumstances. The work can be very intense, but very rewarding!
This job is not for everyone!
Many different things are occurring simultaneously that you must keep track of, and at any time, an emergency call will require your full and immediate attention and quick response. This position requires shift work, meaning you are required to work a variety of day, evening, graveyard shifts including weekends and holidays. When most places are closing for weather related incidents the 9-1-1 staff are coming to work, some don’t return to their homes for several hours.
The 9-1-1 staff is a TEAM, you must be a “team friendly” person.
Areas of Focus for Dispatchers or Potential Dispatchers
“People don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care”
“People want to hear you smile”
Your attitude is indicated by your voice.
There can be a lot of STRESS in the Dispatch Center.
- Family Problems
- Hectic Calls
Always be confident and do the best job you can do, remember everyone has problems and everyone has a bad day. Leave your personal problems at the door and don’t let them affect your job.
Someone with bigger problems may need you, and they need you to be your BEST.
Abilities Possessed by Successful Public Dispatchers
- The ability to multi-task: This means that you must be able to do many things at the same time. For example, talk on the phone, listen to the radio (maybe even multiple channels) and write or type at the same time.
- The ability to focus on surroundings: this means that you must always know what is going on around you. Listening to areas in your jurisdiction.
- The ability to listen intently and speak clearly: there is little time for others to repeat themselves, and even less for you to repeat what you say to others.
- The ability to work anytime of the day, any day of the week and still be alert and ready: you may be called in to work overtime and fill-in on a shift, or to work in an emergency disaster. You must be ALERT regardless of the time of day.
Hearing and Listening
- TALK: to employ speech; to perform the act of speaking
- HEAR: to perceive by the ear
- LISTEN: to give attention with the ear, attend closely for the purpose of hearing
- ACTIVE LISTENING: To give full attention to the act of listening while formulating thought and ideas about what is being said.
There is a gap between “hearing” and “listening”, and you have to put energy into active listening. As they say there is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to talk.
When communicating with a caller: One person talks while the other listens.
When a unit directs a message to you, then its up to you to actively listen to that message, then verify what you heard was actually said. Don’t guess.
Rate of Speech
Rate of speech
is an important component of radio communications, and it is CRITICAL
to the delivery of the message over the radio.
The average individual speaks approximately 90 to 100 words per minute. While the average person can copy correctly 30 to 50 words per minute. You should dispatch at approximately 40 to 50 words per minute.
If field units are constantly requesting you to repeat, there is a good possibility that the dispatcher is speaking to fast.
Radio Messages (Dispatches)
Radio transmissions must be brief and to the point. The radio is not a telephone
Never Guess, check all doubtful words, names, locations before beginning dispatching the message. Arrange all information in a logical sequence and complete detail prior to transmitting. Read the message, highlight or underline the portions of broadcast.
Word Choice in Dispatching
- Use AFFIRMATIVE instead of YES
- Use NEGATIVE instead of NO
- Use UNABLE instead of CAN'T
- Use OBTAIN instead of GET
- Use STANDBY instead of WAIT
STAY CALM your tone will affect the calmness or excitability in others. All radio traffic should be kept to a minimum-only needed information should be broadcast. The officer calling in is the priority.
Choice of Words
Know what you are going to say before you say it. Relay the pertinent information in your own words. DO NOT
. Control your volume and inflection. Speaking to loudly will distort your voice. Too softly will require your transmissions to be repeated. Voice infliction should be controlled and emotionless as possible regardless of the situation.
Do not confuse the word “affirmative” with “10-4”. “10-4” means you heard and understood the transmission, “affirmative “ means YES.
Transmissions should be clear, accurate, and concise. Eliminate unnecessary content when possible. Try to give as much information using as few words as possible.
DO NOT acknowledge a transmission that you do not understand. If you do not understand ask the unit to repeat and advise what portion of traffic to repeat and why.
Developing a Radio Ear
It takes time to develop a “radio ear
”. In order to fully comprehend radio transmissions it is sometimes necessary to block out other conversations or noises within the room. For some a headset is helpful. Headsets allow the user to concentrate on radio traffic while still being able to hear other conversations within the communications center. Comprehension of codes, abbreviations and law enforcement and radio terms is essential. Familiarity with unit’s voices, constant knowledge of units status, is important.
- Alcohol or Drugs
Treat all callers with respect; understand that certain people react with anger and hostility when frustrated. You have a responsibility to provide help to all callers, not just polite ones
- Always confirm the location
- What’s happening or what happened?
- Who is involved? How many?
- When did it happen?
- Are weapons involved? Where are they? Are they loaded?
- Alcohol or drugs involved?
- Complete descriptions of suspects
- Direction of travel
- Caller’s name and call back number
- Other avenues of questioning depend on the situation ask for details