Things seem a little dull around here. How do you feel about requiring that dispatchers have Fire or EMS experience prior to dispatching. It seems that while this may be excessive, at least people on both sides of the radio would have a clue. Just a thought, comments appreciated.
Remember, when the Chief says "gimme a second" he might just be collecting his thoughts!
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03-15-1999, 02:56 PM #1hfdfaoFirehouse.com Guest
03-16-1999, 05:58 PM #2TankerFirehouse.com Guest
I am presently in communications at our PD and we dispatch all agencies in you county. I am the lucky one, I have been both a police officer and a firefighter for 20 yrs. I find it much easier to handle calls. The other dispatchers are good, but they do not understand why they page one rural department for a structure fire and one or two others will also respond. We have tried to explaine that on larger fires to dispatch more stations. They are getting better, but I deffinetly agree that some type of classes should be given, or even spend a shift riding and listen to the dispatch and then see exatly what happens.
03-27-1999, 10:24 AM #3crispy161Firehouse.com Guest
I dispatch part-time for an ems agency which provides 911 response for a city of approximately 28,000 residents. Our minimum requirements: must possess a valid emt-b card, or higher. All of our dispatchers are put on the street as part of their training. Our street medics also must spend some of their orientation with communications. I think that this provides better insight to both sides of the mic to all. Stay safe.
03-31-1999, 10:22 AM #4Michael ArmstrongFirehouse.com Guest
We recently civilianized our dispatch. We had the new dispatchers ride along with our first responders for 120 hours. We also gave them a 40 hour entry level firefighting course . We did not include the hands on sections, but the tools and equipment were shown to them. When the staffing is adequate, we still send the dispatchers out to the stations to ride along with the fire trucks. I think it is very important to continue with the ride-alongs after their training is completed.
As far as EMS is concerned, our dispatchers only dispatch the units, they are not taking the calls. We did require them to pass a First Responder EMS course. This course falls in between a first aid course and an EMT course. It was an 80 course.
04-12-1999, 08:38 AM #5ChiefHankFirehouse.com Guest
I am a firm believer in knowing what it's like on "both sides of the fence." I think that every dispatcher, whether they be police, fire, or EMS, should spend time in the field. By the same token, I believe that every person in the field should spend some time in dispatch. It's the only way you get to know both worlds. I've heard plenty of firefighters who were detailed to the dispatch office say, "I had no idea what it was like here."
Before I became a dispatcher for the Newark, NJ Fire Dept., I served on the city's Fire Reserve for 6 years during the "war years." I was very aggressive and fought fires side by side with some of the world's best fire fighters. When I became a dispatcher for the department, I was able to utilize what I had learned in the field to help me become a better dispatcher. And through my friendships with the men in the field, they began to get new insight and understanding in dispatch.
It was not easy, but after a few years, I was able to get through to some of the toughest old-time dispatchers and show them that some things had to change. For example: how important it was to give responding fire companies the floor number when a fire was reported in one of the city's many housing projects....or to use the phonetic alphabet to clarify an apartment number. When I first started doing these things after I got hired, I was berated and told, "We don't do that here!! You're just trying to show off! Stop it!"
After a couple of years, that changed. I got my old Chief Operator to see how important it was, and he gradually phased it all into our tour's operations. When the other tours saw this, they began to follow.
I used to hear the firemen say, "What the hell is wrong with those operators....can't they even answer a phone??" Then when I started working there, I finally understood why it took so long to answer the phones sometimes.
In my opinion, knowing what it's like on both sides is VERY important to the complete success of any operation. I tried to implement such a program after I made chief, but the department administration laughed at me. So much for progress, I guess.......
04-15-1999, 05:43 AM #6nbfd131Firehouse.com Guest
I believe that it would be good for a dispatcher to have some sort of background in firefighting/ems/police so they know what they are dispatching. We got called on a mutual aid to a fire in a neighboring city. They asked for a truck company but the dispatcher took that as being in engine company so the person ask our chief which engine to send. When the engine company got there, the people waiting for our equipment wondered where the truck company was. Luckily, it was only for standby and not going to a real fire. I'm not sure if our dispatchers, which are from our police department, know the difference between the different apparatus. We plan on changing our numbering system in a few weeks and we have brought up the fact that the dispatchers should at least have an idea what the diffences are.
05-13-1999, 04:45 PM #7RelianceFirehouse.com Guest
I have been a volunteer firefighter for 24 years and last year retired after 9 years as an EMT. I have been a professional dispatcher with my fire department for almost 10 years (it will be 10 on June 19th) and I think if you want to be in that feld you should have the knowledge and expertise. There are three other dispatchers and they have no firefighter experience. One is a retired Major from the Military and he tries to run the center as if he were senior man and if we were all military trained.
05-16-1999, 08:59 PM #8stone35Firehouse.com Guest
I agree that dispacthers should have experience in the field that they are going to dispatch for. Our comm center requires that you perform ride-alongs, and go through a 10-week on-the-job-training course. I feel that this helped me tremendously.
05-17-1999, 08:53 AM #9BVFDFirehouse.com Guest
I guess I'm lucky, from the sounds of things. I work with a volunteer dept., and all of our dispatchers are also on the dept., with the exception of one. And she is a part time police officer in the same jurisdiction. I have to agree whole-heartedly with everyone here. We still, occasionally, have problems with dispatch. But I would hate to see it if they didn't have any field experience at all!!
06-02-1999, 01:46 AM #10Blue BoyFirehouse.com Guest
I agree they should have some type exposure to fire, police and ems scene before they start dispatching. I'm not sure abut actually being one. It helped me be a good dispatcher because I'm and volunteer firefighter/emt. So while most of the dispatchers are wandering why this fire dept is requesting another or why this ems run will need a paramedic, I don't because I've been out there in the field. Currently we have about 15 dispatchers and only 2 have had no background experience at all. It is usually pretty obvious when a training class starts the ones who have had previous experience and the ones who haven't
06-15-1999, 10:54 PM #11lt74Firehouse.com Guest
I HAVE BEEN A DISPATCHER FOR 14 YEARS IN MARYLAND. WE HAVE GROWN FROM A CENTER THAT DISPATCHED FIRE AND EMS TO A COMPLETE 911 CENTER HANDLING ALL 911 CALLS AND DISPATCH FOR FIRE AND EMS. WE HAVE COME FROM A 4 PERSON OPERATION TO AT THE PRESENT TIME 14 PERSON STAFF. I AGREE THAT YOU SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH BOTH SIDES OF THE OPERATION, IN OUR CENTER MOST OF THE DISPATCHERS ARE IN VOL. DEPTS., THE ONES THAT ARE NOT ARE FAMILIAR WITH WHAT GOES ON IN THE FIELD HOWEVER. ALL OPERATORS IN OUR DEPT. (MUST BE TRAINED TO EMD LEVEL) AND I CAN SAY ALL ARE TRAINED TO AT LEAST EMT LEVEL AT THEIR CHOICE. HOWEVER OUR CENTER DOES NOT RECOGINIZE FIRE TRAINING AS BEING IMPORTANT TO WORK AT THE CENTER, SO ONLY THOSE ASSOC. WITH A DEPT. ARE TRAINED IN THAT ASPECT.
06-16-1999, 05:36 PM #12nsfirechapFirehouse.com Guest
I've spent time as a dispatcher in Air Force Fire Departments. The Air Force takes it's dispatchers from asssigned firefighters. I think it really made a differance that I had an idea what was going on on scene. While I do not think it should be mandatory for dispatchers to "have been there" I do think it is important that they spend time in the field to help them better understand what goes on.
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