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  1. #1

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    Wink HELP for FIRE SCIENCE PROJECT!

    Hello everyone!!

    My name is Erin and Iam a 911 Dispatcher for St Tammany Parish. I dispatch fire and medical for 10 different departments.

    Im currently enrolled in Fire Science classes to obtain a degree in Fire Science.


    Im working on a project and I need some help from you guys and gals!!

    Do you think it would benefit 911 fire dispatchers to take Firefighter 1 classes and become certified as a firefighter? Do any of your agencies pay the dispatchers if they have firefighter 1 certification?

    Thanks for everyones help!!


  2. #2
    Forum Member MoosemanKBB527's Avatar
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    all it really dose it get you mad because you sit there and critique every thing the other depts do
    ~Big O~

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    I think it would be helpful. I know when I dispatched I felt like a fish out of water when it came to cop ops because it wasn't my area of experience.

    Just try to avoid the critiqueing mentioned and all should be good I would think.

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    All education is good to have as background knowledge. That being said, many of the topics covered in FF1 would not help you at a Dispatch Center. How to correctly don PPE, SCBA or raise a ladder is hard to do over a radio.

    I would think that a complete working knowledge and understanding of ICS / NIMS would be used more as a dispatcher than most of the FF1 class topics.

    Anticipating the needs on the Fire ground would help.
    Last edited by ChiefDog; 03-10-2009 at 01:37 PM.

  5. #5
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    No, I don't think it would really help you at all. The biggest problem I've noticed is that the dispatchers don't seem to understand the area well. They don't know the streets to well, and it shows, sometimes in frustrating ways.


    Dispatchers keep track of us and send us places, I dont really think you need to know about firefighting tactics. Maybe some watered down class would be alright, but FF1 is definitely overkill.

  6. #6
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    All education is good. And I would recommend you start with a couple of good English/grammar classes. For instance, when writing the contraction "I'm" (as opposed to Im) there should be an apostrophe to show the omission of letters. Once you learn to read and write then you can move onto bigger and better things.

    That said. Taking fire fighter one, EMT/D, and actually performing in the field will without a doubt be an excellent asset. That way, when you are setting in the dispatch center you will understand some of the frustration that comes back from the field.

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    you realize that starting a sentence with "and" is frowned upon when writing? Also, the way you used the word "setting" is a slang usage, not very impressive.


    Yes, I realize my posts are "proper English", but that doesn't undo your mistakes.

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    Forum Member FDAIC485's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    All education is good. And I would recommend you start with a couple of good English/grammar classes. For instance, when writing the contraction "I'm" (as opposed to Im) there should be an apostrophe to show the omission of letters. Once you learn to read and write then you can move onto bigger and better things.

    That said. Taking fire fighter one, EMT/D, and actually performing in the field will without a doubt be an excellent asset. That way, when you are setting in the dispatch center you will understand some of the frustration that comes back from the field.
    Why don't you have a class on diagramming sentences while you are at it, Mr. Webster. Here's one to start off.

    "Honestly, you have to remove the closet hook from your arse."
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  9. #9
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    I do not feel that having firefighter 1-2 is necessary for being a 911 dispatcher, however... I feel that they should do ride along time to see what it is like out on the streets from the firefighter's point of view. If you are going to be dispatching for the Police/Sheriff in addition to fire, then you should do ride along time with them, too.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    I do not feel that having firefighter 1-2 is necessary for being a 911 dispatcher, however... I feel that they should do ride along time to see what it is like out on the streets from the firefighter's point of view. If you are going to be dispatching for the Police/Sheriff in addition to fire, then you should do ride along time with them, too.
    Bingo. My thoughts exactly!
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    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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  11. #11
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Post Well...............

    This is my 51st year in this business, over half of that as a Chief Officer. I have also sat behind the Mike as well. Coupla' things: As Gonz said, above, do some ride along time. Learn the Business from our perspective. Also learn the area that you dispatch for, as well. I know my County, all 430 Square Miles of it, VERY well, simply because I always took time to look up things that might pose a problem. If your shift matches up with a regular shift in the field, try to get to meet the Chiefs, Captains, etc. that you'll be communicating with. You really can't learn too much about "The Job", as we sometimes refer to it. One thing that someone has thrown at you with unnecessary sarcasm is Print Message Skills. If you use linked Computer Printers or similar systems to communicate with your Fire Stations, Remember ABSOLUTELY Do Not Use "Textspeak" which is the common shorthand used in text messages. Your opening post tells me that you Text a lot. Leave Text in the car when you get to work. Why?? Well, for one, in a Haz Mat Emergency, Names of things MUST be Communicated EXACTLY and not short cutted to save space. Messing up the difference between Chlorate and Chloride or Hydro and Hypro can have deadly results. Get out and learn - You'll be better for it. There is a guy on here "Dickey" who knows a lot more about dispatching than I ever will. I'll ask him to look in here and add to the discussion.......
    Last edited by hwoods; 03-10-2009 at 09:17 PM.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  12. #12
    Forum Member TNFF319's Avatar
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    I say spend the money for FF1 on better maps. They shouldn't have to anticipate needs on the fireground. The officer in charge should be competent enough to make the appropriate call. I think dispatchers and those being dispatched should remember to just be nice. Both jobs are stressful.
    FF/Paramedic

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    I do not feel that having firefighter 1-2 is necessary for being a 911 dispatcher, however... I feel that they should do ride along time to see what it is like out on the streets from the firefighter's point of view. If you are going to be dispatching for the Police/Sheriff in addition to fire, then you should do ride along time with them, too.
    I also agree with this advice as the MINIMUM a new dispatcher should do. They will be able to see some of the calls of how they come in and what is reality.

    Our dept used to do its own dispatching and because the dispatchers were FF/EMT there were many calls handled over the phone. Not the case anymore. Now we have civilian dispatchers using the pro QA or "priority" dispatching, and does leave much to be desired. Calls like seizures or hypoglycemia come in as non-priority, because that is what the cards say. Other times we run emergent because the call comes in as "difficulty breathing" and turns out to be a drunk who puked.

    IMO, FF1 would help very minimal. If looking to further education to understand things better, I would suggest becoming an EMT. Fires and alarms we can handle when we get there. Medical emergencies would be nice to have someone who understands such calls to dispatch them out properly.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    Thanks Harve for the kind words....case of cheese curds to you!!!!

    erinmcnulty......

    First off let me say that I am a 911 dispatcher in Wisconsin for a county of about 102,000 people, urban and rural. We dispatch all police, fire and EMS agencies in the county, a total of 18 different agencies on 22 different frequencies in a combined dispatch center. We are civilian dispatchers trained in both law enforcement things and fire things but we are not law enforcement officers or firefighters.

    We have a total of 19 dispatchers with another 3 coming very shortly. Out of that, 3 of us are firefighters on the side. Over the years, about 8 or so have been a reseve police officer or county deputy as well.

    To answer your questions....No...it would not benefit a dispatcher to be a certified firefighter, or law enforcement officer for that matter. The background information and knowledge certainly is. That is why we go through 18 weeks of training to do the job.

    For example....Most of the dispatchers didn't know what an "engine", "heavy rescue", or "truck" does and they didn't know the difference between an axe handle or a water hammer. We organized a class for the dispatchers as to how a fire department operates, how and what they are expecting of the dispatchers. Now this is part of the training for newbies coming in. Part of the training is that a new dispatcher has to ride with the FD to see what it is like. Likewise, new firefighters have to sit in the Communications Center with us.

    A dispatcher needs to understand the job of the firefighter but does not need to be able to do the job of a firefighter. Just as the dispatcher needs to understand the job of the police officer, but doesn't have to be a certified police officer. I take questions almost every shift of "why do they do this" or "how do they do that" just so they understand why they dispatch a 2nd alarm on something or why they ask for a special truck for some special equipment.

    Now in some large cities (Chicago, Boston(?), Minneapolis, LA, New York), there is a seperate dispatch center for police where the dispatcher is a police officer, seperate for fire where the dispatcher is a firefighter, and seperate for EMS where the dispatcher is an EMT or Paramedic. There are good and bad points to both set ups and concepts.


    So.........moral of the story........

    No. It would not be necissary for a dispatcher to be certified as a firefighter because that is not the job of the dispatcher. Same with law enforcement or EMS. I don't have to be a certified police officer or EMT to do my job. In fact, I am an EMT and it was hard to stick with my required Emergency Medical Dispatch cards and not do my patient assessments that I would do in the field over the phone. It is nice to have the expierence though while giving CPR instructions to tell the caller "you will here this" or "it's normal for this to happen"

    And no, I do not get paid any different regardless of how many pieces of paper I have hung on my wall.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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  15. #15
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jccrabby3084 View Post
    Now we have civilian dispatchers using the pro QA or "priority" dispatching, and does leave much to be desired. Calls like seizures or hypoglycemia come in as non-priority, because that is what the cards say. Other times we run emergent because the call comes in as "difficulty breathing" and turns out to be a drunk who puked.
    jccrabby....

    I feel your pain but let me give you a different perspective. First of all...we can only go on the information provided by the caller. We are not on scene and cannot assess the situation ourselves so we have to trust that we are getting correct information. It's just like a call I took last week....caller said he had a "small fire in his oven" and when units got there it was fire showing from two windows!

    There are several different medias to use to prioritize medical calls (Medical Priority, Powerphone, etc) What this does is the dispatcher asks questions and a priority is assigned to the call based on the information provided by the caller. For example.....someone has chest pain....is that because they are having a cardiac event or because they got punched in the chest? If a caller gives a "bad" answer, then it's given a higher priority. Sometimes, we dispatch something as a true emergency and it turns out that it isn't. Sometimes we dispatch something as not an emergency and it turns out it's life threatening. There really is nothing that is going to be perfect but it does ok for most situations.

    I can tell you from a responder's perspective that no, any system is perfect. I have been dispatched to someone passed out because they are drunk and get there and discover they are not breathing. I have been dispatched to things that sounded big, but really are not. It just comes down to the information the caller provides.

    We use Medical Priority Dispatch. It is a series of 28 different call types (fall, trouble breathing, chest pain, traumatic injury, etc.) Someone calls and says I am having trouble breathing. I flip to that card, ask the questions on that card, and based on their answers it will assign a priority to it. (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta....Alpha being least life threatening, Delta being most life threatening) Depending on the call type is how the EMS system responds and what they will send to the call.

    Your local medical director can change whatever response they feel needs to be changed. Maybe in your case, your director needs to review those cards and change something. Our medical director has changed stuff that normally would be say an Alpha response to a Charlie response, based on the treatment protocols of our local area.

    I suggest you bring your concerns to your bosses who can take that to the local EMS council or whoever governs the way those call are dispatched and fine tune it a bit to be the most efficient response possible.

    Again, not cutting you down, just giving some perspective.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

    IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    you realize that starting a sentence with "and" is frowned upon when writing? Also, the way you used the word "setting" is a slang usage, not very impressive.


    Yes, I realize my posts are "proper English", but that doesn't undo your mistakes.
    The use of contractions to start a sentence is not good practice in technical writing. It is however acceptable in casual writing.

    And yea, the correct word is sitting, not setting. My bad.

    That is the great part about writing, there is always room for improvement.

  17. #17
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Well..............

    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    The use of contractions to start a sentence is not good practice in technical writing...............
    Contractions can be prevented by using contraceptives..........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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  18. #18
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Again, my brother Harve has said what I was thinking. That long in the fire service? Wow, I go back to 1957 myself but that’s another story.

    I may add that going through a short overview as to what Firefighters and the Fire department does is very good. Terminology is very essential for a fire dispatcher. When the poop hits the road, you may not have time to turn around and asked someone, “What Did They Say???? HUH?? A What”??

    I’ve been at fire alarm office when a working fire came in and a young operator having a lot of trouble until an old operator came in and sat down with him.

    I even sat in an help called the shots and prompting them to call for this or that and to relocate companies before the CAD suggested it.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Contractions can be prevented by using contraceptives..........
    ROFLMAO!!!! Who can argue with that?????

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    jccrabby....

    I feel your pain but let me give you a different perspective. First of all...we can only go on the information provided by the caller. We are not on scene and cannot assess the situation ourselves so we have to trust that we are getting correct information. It's just like a call I took last week....caller said he had a "small fire in his oven" and when units got there it was fire showing from two windows!

    There are several different medias to use to prioritize medical calls (Medical Priority, Powerphone, etc) What this does is the dispatcher asks questions and a priority is assigned to the call based on the information provided by the caller. For example.....someone has chest pain....is that because they are having a cardiac event or because they got punched in the chest? If a caller gives a "bad" answer, then it's given a higher priority. Sometimes, we dispatch something as a true emergency and it turns out that it isn't. Sometimes we dispatch something as not an emergency and it turns out it's life threatening. There really is nothing that is going to be perfect but it does ok for most situations.

    I can tell you from a responder's perspective that no, any system is perfect. I have been dispatched to someone passed out because they are drunk and get there and discover they are not breathing. I have been dispatched to things that sounded big, but really are not. It just comes down to the information the caller provides.

    We use Medical Priority Dispatch. It is a series of 28 different call types (fall, trouble breathing, chest pain, traumatic injury, etc.) Someone calls and says I am having trouble breathing. I flip to that card, ask the questions on that card, and based on their answers it will assign a priority to it. (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta....Alpha being least life threatening, Delta being most life threatening) Depending on the call type is how the EMS system responds and what they will send to the call.

    Your local medical director can change whatever response they feel needs to be changed. Maybe in your case, your director needs to review those cards and change something. Our medical director has changed stuff that normally would be say an Alpha response to a Charlie response, based on the treatment protocols of our local area.

    I suggest you bring your concerns to your bosses who can take that to the local EMS council or whoever governs the way those call are dispatched and fine tune it a bit to be the most efficient response possible.

    Again, not cutting you down, just giving some perspective.

    Dickey,

    I can't speak for all dispatchers nor how it is in the western part of the state. I can only speak about the dispatchers that we have. Yes, you are correct that you can only go on with what the caller states, the issues do stem more so how a call does get dispatched. We have experienced way too many cases of a priority call being deemed priority and vice versa. I truly do not know about the "difficulty breathing" cards, but it sure does seem that the card is very vague as for questioning, because much of what is difficulty breathing is actual BS. Here, it just seems to be a catch all...aww can't understand the caller? it must be difficulty breathing.

    I have recently experienced "Alpha" calls, non-priority, to such things as seizures or hypoglycemia, of which both should be upgraded. I have been dispatched to such BS calls of a pt picked up the SAME day for shoulder pain and calling again at night for the same thing.

    The reason I brought such things up is because the OP was asking if doing FF1 would help with dispatching and my recommendation was if anything, do EMT. Point is, one does NOT have to be on scene to know a seizure or hypoglycemia, stroke etc is NOT a non priority call...despite what the cards say. There are just some things that are learned from actually experiencing such calls when one dispatches them. I know it is about what the caller states, but if someone has some patient assessment skills that an EMT should, they could also give a better picture than what some cards say. I personally think we have lost that type of skill when we started placing too much into such cards. Not to take away from wht you do, but like anything some hands-on and field experience can only help.

    As for complaints about dispatches, we have made numerous calls known. However, the concerns have been consistently brushed off and the word we get is from the dispatch supervisor stating protocol was followed, etc. We actually had an issue addressed to all stations where a rig asked for a test call from dispatch. They forgot to clear the test call on the MDT and subsequently were not dispatched on an actual call. Sure the officer was at fault, but the dispatcher should also have known that the rig was on a test call, but still didn't dispacth them. It just goes both ways.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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