1. #1
    Chief 51-17
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Dispatcher previous experience

    Our county is just starting a central dispatch center (911) and the coordinator says they don't want EMT's etc. to be EMS dispatchers or police officers to be Police dispatchers or anyone with fire training to be a fire dispatcher. Does this sound like it makes sense ??

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    sounds to me like you need to stand up to them and say that you need that field expierence behind the mike, at least for the fire and ems part.....the dispatchers with the county sheriff's office which dispatches for my county,only have the basic EMD training and no fire training, the dispatchers for the twp. of which i am one are trained to the ff1 level and all are emts 2 of us are advanced emt and all are trained EMD dispatchers. the comm center is no place for OJT!!!!!!

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Sounds like the coordinator has set out to prove that field experience does not a good dispatcher make. That may be true, but it's certainly not a detriment.

    Member, IAFF Local 2024

  4. #4
    Lieutenant Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Experience in dispatching is essential, unless the coordinator believes in the USMC "tear em down and rebuild them" theory. That would work if you have 12+ weeks to train new dispatchers. There should be a set of standard ops procedures/guidelines so all the dispatch personnel will be playing by the same plan. I agree with both DeanF and FireDan 69, both of them make vaild points, but in my humble opinion, give me someone with experience that can keep a cool head while everyone else is losing theirs to dispatch me to a call.

    Take care and be safe...Lt. Gonzo

    [This message has been edited by Lieutenant Gonzo (edited February 11, 2000).]

  5. #5
    Jeffrey Casson
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Although I am fairly new at the dispatching scene(6 months), the dispatch center I work for looks highly upon previous experience in a public safety field. It can only help understand both sides of the situation. They even give preference for prior experience in one of the fields.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I was a dispatcher for 3 years prior to transferring to the fire department. I am a paramedic and was in the comm center. Our comm center now requires all dispatchers to be at least EMT-B and will assist in any further education they desire. Field experience is truly invaluable!!

    Be Safe!

  7. #7
    Andrew R. Duval
    Firehouse.com Guest


    All of the Dispatchers in my Center have field experiance. Most of them are currently volunteer or career Firefighters. This turns out to be a huge advantage. A neighboring Dispacth Center doesn't use field experianced Dispatchers and you can tell. They don't realize the urgentcy of certain calls, and they just plain don't understand the "Lingo".


  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I have been a dispatcher for about 10 years now. I have been an EMT for nearly 11 years and a firefighter for about 2 years. I work in a large consolidated dispatch center with about 65 employees. Out of 65 employees, I would say that less than 10 have any formal fire or EMS training (Firefighter or EMT).

    I guess the bigest thing that I notice is that nearly anyone can be taught to be a fire or EMS dispatcher. However the people that have field experience have a much,much better grasp of what really needs to get done, what's important and what's not important.

    I can only shake my head when I hear on the fire channels "Engine 2 from command - pull the 2 1/2 inch pre-connect, and protect the side 3 exposure..." and the dispatcher looks completely confused and says "what did he say?" And I have to tell them, "Command just told Engine 2 to pull a big hose off the truck and head to the back of the building and keep something else from catching on fire"

    It has been my expereince that EMT's and Firefighters that work in dispatch instictively know:
    1) The right questions to ask
    2) Can interpret the answers quickly and efficiently and...
    3) Generally do a much better job than someone who does not have the "street knowledge" that the rest of us do.

    I would strongly suggest to the director of this new center that having at least a few trained Firefighters and EMT's in the chairs in dispatch would be the best and most efficient way to keep the Firefighters and EMT's on the street safe.

    M. Brewer
    Police/Fire Dispatcher

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I work for a fire/EMS dispatch center that currently handles 21 agencies in Pierce County. We have 17 employees working 4 shifts.

    I believe that experience is a very good thing to have. All 4 people on my team have experience in the fire/EMS field and it shows. We know what things are right off and the questions to ask. The other teams have a few people that have experience, and the hesitancy and lack of questioning shows.

    However, I also believe that everyone can be trained. We have a couple people that have no experience in the field and after working with people that have, now have very good knowledge of what they are talking about.

    As for dispatchers being "cops, firemen, and EMT's," I will take them one at a time.

    Cops = sometimes it is beneficial here, sometimes it is not. I don't believe it should be a requirement.

    Firemen = Not beneficial. On fire calls, there is usually very little information you are going to get from an RP. Usually it is the basics and you have them evacuate.

    EMT's = Very beneficial, I do believe that in a few years it will be required for dispatchers to have EMT training and the EMD protocols will revolved around this.


  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I think field experince is critical. We have always offered cpr instructions over the phone, even before the was an EMD. We even have medics that dispatch and that is extremely helpful with EMS calls.

    I do not represnt the Columbu Division of Fire or it's veiws.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    "Firemen = Not beneficial. On fire calls, there is usually very little information you are going to get from an RP. Usually it is the basics and you have them evacuate."

    Oh, I don't know. I come from a center where "smoke in the house" is not an automatic full response. This is because our dispatchers have the field experience to know that just 'cause there's smoke, does not necessarily mean there's justification for treating it like a house fire.

    When taking a chimney fire call, my FF experience has given me the confidence to say things like "take a wad of paper towels, wet it down good, and throw it on the fire, if you can do so safely. This will create steam, which may put the fire out."

    We believe in assisting the caller to help themselves before we get there, on each call. Obviously it's not possible in every case, but we make the effort, and the FF experience makes it work better.

    Member, IAFF Local 2024

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I can only speak from my own experiences, I dispatched for both police and fire/ems prior to my full time employment. and looking back I can say with 100% assurance that dispatching would have been easyer to learn with some field experience.

    If you can don't let them exclude firefighters and police officers from positions with the dispatch center.

    Good Luck


  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I dispatched for fire/police/ambulance for 6 years. Experience makes a world of difference. Like others have said - you know the right questions to ask.

    I had EMS experience so I was fine with those calls.

    The police department was fairly small and they took the time to train me and help me learn by doing critiques after calls to tell me the difference between what I sent them on and what I found - and how I could have found out more.

    The more information the better whether its Fire/EMS or PD - their lives (or the patient's lives) are quite literally in your hands until someone arrives to mitigate the situation.

    Susan Bednar
    Captain - Forsyth Rescue
    North Carolina Strike Force 1

  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'm a 9-1-1 Coordinator. I've had 20 years of public safety experience in in the fire service, as an EMT and then as a paramedic. I'm also a professional emergency manager and have worked in law enforcement.

    While I don't particularly agree with the stated simplification of the issue or a blanket that one should "never...", I can say that a good telecommunicator is one that follows protocols. If a firefighter, EMT or police officer can switch themselves into telecommunicator mode, then they are fine. But...

    As a paramedic, I found going through EMD to be AGONIZING! I had the urge to jump in and freelance rather than stick with the program and use the rigid guidelines on the cards and the PAIs. I think many other people of similar backgrounds would do the same.

    As a fire chief, I would need complete information to make decisions on the fireground. A firefighter *might* be tempted to filter what he or she perceives as unimportant and not relay the complete picture, or worse, they might be tempted to fight the fire from the board (BTDT).

    I also had the occasion to speak with police officers who were detailed into communications as dispatchers (involuntarily for many different reasons). This was not a positive experience (IMO). Hopefully, the ones that wish to work in your facility are doing so wilfully.

    The rationale is that a person with little or no prior experience as a field responder can be taught EMD and other specialized dispatching skills and procedures then be a superb dispatcher. That doesn't mean that someone who has no experience is better than someone who does and can similarly perform as a telecommunicator. Keep in mind that public safety communications itself is a very specialized profession. Modern telecommunicators are specialists and must undergo a great deal of training - they can't just walk in off the street, sit down and start talking, even if they've had 20 years of experience in the streets.

    Using experienced personnel would only be a positive experience if AND ONLY IF they can use their experience and instincts to help field personnel. They must be able to follow the rules and protocols the same way "civilian" telecommunicators do and be able to switch off certain tendencies that may make them gung ho, freelance or try to run the call from the board; they must play the role of a telecommunicator. These are individual traits that have to be evaluated from person to person, so I don't think it's fair to make a general statement that bars any and all people with field experience.

    Steve Makky, Sr., ENP

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