When someone calls 911, the call is answered by a public safety dispatcher who immediately becomes a lifeline to the caller who may be experiencing the worst day of his or her life.
It takes a special person with special skills to be a public safety dispatcher. If you are that person, emergency services agencies have a job and career for you.
Demand for Public Safety Dispatchers is High
The state Department of Labor and Employment forecasts 209 job openings per year in Colorado for the next eight years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sees an 8 percent annual increase in job openings nationally over the next eight years.
So you can work as a public safety dispatcher in Colorado or lots of other places in the United States. Colorado and national media have recently reported on the great need for public safety dispatchers.
What Do Public Safety Dispatchers Do?
Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers typically do the following:
- Answer 911 emergency telephone and alarm system calls
- Determine the type of emergency and its location and decide the appropriate response on the basis of agency procedures
- Relay information to the appropriate first-responder agency
- Coordinate the dispatch of emergency response personnel to accident scenes
- Give basic over-the-phone medical instructions before emergency personnel arrive
- Monitor and track the status of police, fire, and ambulance units
- Synchronize responses with other area communication centers
- Keep detailed records of calls
Who Can Be a Public Safety Dispatcher?
Anyone 18 and older can qualify, with the right training.
But there’s more than just making the age cut. Public Safety Dispatchers need to be good at multitasking. They need to be comfortable working with computers, telecommunications, and other technology. They need to be able to manage their stress and the stress of the person on the other end of the line. They want to be able to help people on that worst day of their life.
Public Safety Dispatch at FRCC
FRCC has a two-semester certificate in Public Safety Dispatch. In the first part of the program, students learn the basics of policing, psychology, stress management, and dealing with people in stressful times.
The second part of the program builds on the first. Students learn the unique skills required in emergency telecommunications. The acquire the core knowledge needed to communicate with someone until help arrives on scene.
An important part of the program is an internship. Students are placed in emergency call centers to observe and shadow public safety dispatchers. Students see what the job is like as they rotate through the various shifts that public safety dispatchers cover. It also gives the student an opportunity to network with an employer.
Please note that a background check is required before starting the Public Safety Dispatch certificate as well as a condition for employment in this field.
Who Should Enroll in Public Safety Dispatch?
Answer these questions:
- Do you enjoy helping people?
- Can you stay calm and manage your stress?
- Are you comfortable communicating on the telephone?
- Can you multitask?
- Are you comfortable with technology?
If you answer yes to these questions, it’s time to get started on a great career.