1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up emergency dispatch operator

    for all of you dispatchers, how did you get started in this field? How does the road look to becoming one myself? Thank you for any information you can share.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I started as a volunteer FF with a small department. They needed relief dispatchers, so I signed on. Learned how to dispatch by listening to the scanner. Did that for about eight months, came to realize that I did it well, and moved on to bigger and busier. No formal training here.

    Street expirience is almost essential to be a good dispatcher. I know I'll get some arguments on that point. I work with a couple of very competent people who have no street expirience, so there are exceptions.

    If you're lucky, you will get hired by a place that lets you use your brain to make independent decisions at the console, and not hamstring you with absurd regulations and technicalities.

    Member, IAFF Local 2024

    [This message has been edited by deanf (edited January 22, 2000).]

  3. #3
    Brad Barton
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Just like any other field you gotta start at the bottom and work your way up. I started as a part-time police dispatcher in rural Missouri when I was 19. I worked there for 3 years working my way up to supervisor. I've now been in this line of work 11 years. You just gotta get used to the swing shifts and weekends. That's the only draw-back to this type of work, or any emergency service. Good Luck.

    IAFF Local 1889

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Working swingshifts and weekends are drawbacks? Heresy!

    We work 4 days on, four days off, but when I have weekdays off, I love it. Since most people play on the weekends, when I go anywhere on the weekdays, I have everything (hiking trails, fishing lakes, gun ranges, etc) to my self.

    Nightshift is great because you don't have to deal with the administration, and you don't have to wake up to an alarm.

    Member, IAFF Local 2024

  5. #5
    Phil C
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I started dispatching 10 years ago. You should have some "street" experience, it really does help. My training was two weeks of watching the more experienced dispatchers and how they did things. We didn't have 9-1-1 then so we weren't required to go through any "basic" telecommunications class. Since then, 9-1-1 is in and to even walk in our door you need to take a test and than get a basic telecommincations course. As far as the job oppotunities in the future, they will only grow as the smaller depts get bigger and call volumes in general go up. also there is a trend for depts to "regionalize" (sorry folks), good luck with the job hunt and if you do indeed get a job than welcome to the assylum

  6. #6
    AR 2949
    Firehouse.com Guest


    When I decided to become a dispatcher, I just started calling all the local & state departments in my area and found 2 or 3 that were currently hiring. I had no dispatching experience, but was a volunteer fire fighter. Having some experience in the field is a definite plus, but not mandatory. The other 2 people that were hired with me had no experience and did fine. The only difference was that it took a little longer for them to catch onto some things.

    If you have never worked shifts before that can take a little getting used to. I work 5 days, and I am off for 3 days. This keeps your schedule different every week, which is nice if you arent a Mon-Fri type of person.
    I highly recommend midnight shift. I didnt want to work it, but had no choice after my training was over. Turns out its great! There are less supervisors around, I get paid more money than day shift and work hardly ever conflicts with any personal things I need to do because everyday I am home during the day and evening.

    Some departments rotate shifts every so often. I wouldnt recommend this because once you get used to working midnights you switch to days or evenings. Where I work you stay on your shift and once a year they have bid for shifts based on senority.

    I wish you luck!

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Started as volunteer firefighter and when my old agency started dispatching their own equipment I volunteered for that duty and years later I applied and was accepted to my current position as an Emergency dispatcher.

    I think it's a great field and challenge. Work is never the same. Yes you have the regular routine that you follow and accept, but, the interesting part is the challenge in coordinating activities and response and providing services to the citizens in a timely manner.

    Shift work can be a drag, but, my agency has gone to set 12 hour shifts that run from 0700-1900 and 1900-0700. 2on,2off, with a 3day weekend off every other week. For now, shift assignments are made on a yearly basis, but are subject to change to meet the needs of the agency. There is no set criteria for assigning shifts at this time. It is strickly up to the Director. (bummer)

    I have found that prior experience in any public safety field is a trememdous asset in performing this job.

    Good Luck in your endeavors. Dispatchers are like the Marines, were looking for a few good men and women.

    Mike Gray
    SVFD Co.4

  8. #8
    Jeffrey Casson
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    I think it depends on where you want a job as a dispatcher. Some places want experience, some want none. In my center, every person must have two years of dispatch experience to get hired. Our director also gives preference to applicants who have two or more years of field experience in police, fire, or EMS. The dispatchers also all must have APCO Basic Telecommunicator, Emergency Medical Dispatch, and a valid CPR card. I imagine that you can make yourself more presentable by getting these certificates and working out in the field also.

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I was working for McDonnell/Douglas as a security officer when they approached me to become a communications operator. From there I was trained as a Firefighter and EMT. When I was laid off from that job, I went to medic school and started working for a private ambulance company.
    After about a year, I started working for them as a dispatcher. I took the civil service test and ranked high enough to get the job I have now. I love it, and the guys are the best.

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