1. #1
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    Question Is there a future as a dispatcher?

    I am considering testing for a postion as a dispatcher.
    This would be a career change for me. (Mid-life)
    What advice or warnings would you offer a potential candidate?

    Experience counts here,
    All you who do this for pay, or just for the love of it.
    Would you do it again? Why or Why not?

    What's my chances of getting hired @ middle age?

    What skill is the most important?

    What's the best and worse part of your job?

    Let me have your opinions, Ok?

    Dutch

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    Dutch - let me try to answer most of your questions in no particular order. Like most public safety jobs, nobody is doing dispatching for the money. You either like it or you don't, and you'll find out soon enough if you don't like it. As far as being hired at "your age", there is normally high turnover and a shortage of qualified applicants, so that should not be a concern. In fact, I welcome more seasoned applicants at our facility because their sick leave records tend to be better than the younger folks. Maybe they appreicate that you can get sick and might need some of those days. As to the good and the bad, well a lot depends on where you work, but shift work can be tough, there's often lots of overtime, and many facilities don't provide dispatchers with breaks or lunch hours, so you may fall into the fast food pit. It can be a stressful job, often made more so by short staffing. As for the good, again like anything else in this line of work, most folks feel they make a difference - and they do. That's my two cents. Hope I hit most of your questions.

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    intersting ..I am luck to work in a County EMS only center, but we are the HUB that holds the other entities together with CAD. We make a good amount of money working 4 days on and 2 days off that continues to rotate through the year. We bid on shift (days, afternoon, mids) once a year. I would not work at anything less than public entity for the obvious pay and benefits. We are required to maintain EMT Basic, MPDS EMD, AHA CPR "C" Card certifications.

    Also depending your center is kinda of changing whats the most important thing, for us here, it is the ability to multitask. That means being able to talk on the phone to a caller, make a quick radio acknowledgement (sp) and then recalling what they said after you hang up the phone.

    Age I think has not much bearing on it at all.

    Everytime my agency has an opening (which isnt often) it is very competitive, and it doesnt hurt to know someone there either. Also if you arent sure if you want to dispatch, call and see if you can observe for a shift. Thats what I did ..........helps with the previous mentioned ideas.

    Best part of my job ..........it is relatively easy.
    Worst part.....the goofs on the radio who dont know what to say or do.
    As far as the phones go........there are 2 things, 1 when people are irate at you for asking the questions trying to send the right help or help the person until help arrives. And 2.......when you get someone on the phone requesting help and cant answer a single question leaving you with no idea as to what to send or whats going on on a particular scene. What say you '77...........?
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    I came into Dispatch at the age of 45. Made a very rewarding Career out of it. I guess you could call that Middle Age.I retired after 17 plus years. When the City offerd us the DROP program I took it and after 2 years I took a nice piece of Change with me. I now make more than when I was working, between Social Security and my Pension from the City. Taxes killed me costing me almost $10,000.00. But I am enjoying retirement.

    It's a good career, but you do have to learn to tune out a lot of personal feelings or you will burn out. I highly recommend it as a career. Don't let the naysayers and the Rude People you will have to talk to get you down. Stress is bad enough, without getting depressed.

    Good Luck if you decide to join. Without a Dispatcher no one gets sent out. Remember you are "The Voice that sets the Wheels in Motion."
    In most cases you won't get much praise and a lot of FF,s and Medics will question why you sent them out on some stupid run. It's because you followed Protocol, as FF's and Medics also have to do.

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    Good responses by all. Weruj covered how it is at our employer......

    Multi-tasking is a big requirement. If you have trouble chewing guma dn walking, this is not the job for you.

    As far as age goes, don't worry about it. Some people get into it at a young age, others later on in life. Being a certain age doesn't mean you'll be better at the job........

    If you are looking at someplace in particular, do your homework. Like Weruj said, see if you can onserve for a few hours to see if you may like it. Get a scanner of you don't have one and listen toi them. You'd be surprised some of the things you can pick up on. If you have experience in the field (working the streets), it will help you out, but it's not required (although I think all dispatchers should be required to do some obeservation time in the field, also. At least for those who are not working in the field).

    Some places pay pretty damn good money...... Others pay crap. It just depends. You will usually find (at least in our area) that the places the pay pretty good have a low turnover rate and the lower paying agencies have a higher turnover.

    Yes, you will get callers that are a pain in the butt, but then again there are just as many that will bring a good laugh to you and your coworkers.

    Good luck in your search.........
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

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    Default Thanks for the comments

    More questions.

    What kind of typing skill are required?

    WPM etc.

    What's the Oldest Dispatcher that you know who is still working?

    Thanks for indulging my questions.

    Dutch

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    I know we dont have to have any real typing skills as we dont typically enter calls into the CAD system, but IIRC call takers in our center have to type 60 wpm ...........I think we have 3 dispatchers in their 50's.............
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    The typing skills will depend on the agency you are going to and what kind of service it is.

    Where Weruj and I work, we, typically, do not answer a true 911 call. When someone calls 911, the call is answered by a call-taker from either one of the 2 agencies in our building (SO and PD) with call takers or it is answered by one of the other PSAPs is the county. Whoever answers the call is supposed to transfer over the calls that require EMS and we will then interrogate the caller.

    If you are working for one of the PSAPs, you will probably be required to have some typing skills (like Weruj mentioned) since you will actually be entering the calls into the CAD.
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

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    Most Typing is pretty much one hand on call taking if you have a CAD System. Just type in a few numbers if they vary from the screen. A lot of APCO is simply clicking on the correct response which takes you to the next step.

    Dispatching on the Radio is a bit more like Typing with one hand. Working the Mouse with the Other, while running your Mouth and Working the Transmit Button with your foot. Don't worry, you still got another foot free.Someday they will find a use for that too. LOL

    One important thing is to learn to listen and not try to be a know it all when new. Learn from the Person who is considered the Best or from someone who is willing to teach you. I have had someone with just an hour in the room try to tell me how to do something after 17 years of doing it.

    Every Place will have SOP's and Protocol to follow. Follow them implicitly and you will not get in trouble. ASK a Senior Dispatcher or better yet the Supervisor if you are not sure. Don't worry, if you make a mistake, the whole Room will let you know. Some things they will never let you forget. I'm still remided of some I made when I was a rookie, they will follow me forever.I used to listen on a scanner for a few years before I ever took the job. Not because I was a Geek, just something to do. Never figured on becoming a Dispatcher, much less making it a Career. It sure helped me.

  10. #10
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    I've been dispatching for about 4 years now. I love it but it helps that it is hardly "work" for me. Being the radio and computer nerd that I am, it is more like being paid to play. Like others have said, if you aren't going to like it, you will find out quickly. The level of stupidity you have to deal with sometimes will far surpass what you though possible.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  11. #11
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    Thanks to you all for this information.

    Any links to websites that you feel might be of assistance would be appreciated too.

    Dutch

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    Not much I can add. I agree with just about everything that was said.

    Sites tha have good Dispatcher forums are:

    www.911jobforums.com

    www.10-7.com

    www.911console.com (large email list)

  13. #13
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    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  14. #14
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    Default Dispatcher

    I would have to agree with what I have read up to now. I have been a dispatcher for 20 years. I started out in a small municipality police dept doing mostly hand written radio logs and typing phone logs. Was in that department for 5 years when the county had a fire/ems dispatcher position open up.

    I have served in the county for 15 years. We are a unique center we have 911 service and we are a combined center. 3 personnel work on fire/ems 1 is 911 call taker the other is ems dispatch and the 3rd is fire dispatch.

    In the same room across from us are the state police,department of natural resources and Aviation dispatchers. They have 4 people assigned to their shift with one being a 911 call taker and a back up call taker usually works the aviation console.

    Yes like everyone has said, you have to be multitasking in our jobs.
    Like any job you have good days and bad days. I have had my share of both and sometimes I question myself if I did the right thing or did enough. Those are some of the things that keep you wondering in this job.

    You will know within 6 months if you have chosen the right profession.
    Age,same everywhere turnover is very high in most places. When I first started in the municipality police department until I left for the county, there were 24 dispatchers that left in the five years I was there because they simply could not take the pressure that was demanded of them

    Good luck in whatever you choose.

    Gene

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    Default Read this article then decide

    A rather long Newspaper Article on Fire and Rescue 911 Dispatching in Philadelphia Pa. With some mention of Phoenix and Houston. Copy the URL if needed into your browser. Please read it.
    http://citypaper.net/articles/current/cover.shtml

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    Thanks for the article.
    The application deadline for the test is early June.
    I need all the advice I can get.

    Dutch

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