1. #1
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    Default Dispatch Roles and Responsibilities

    Hi,

    I am looking for anything you folks may have regarding dispatch roles and responsibilities. We have a dispatch center that dispatches for 4 rural counties and for all diciplines (Law, fire, EMS, etc... all of them).

    I am trying to define more clearly what the roles, responsibilities, and such are for a dispatch center like ours.

    Does anybody have a general definition for what a dispatch center is?

    Does anybody have any good mission statements for dispatch centers and dispatchers?

    It comes back to a recent incident where one of our Law Deputies told dispatch that their "job" was to "listen to what we tell you to do."



    That didnt seem to fit the description of a all hazard dispatch center to me.

    So, what I am looking to do is DEFINE what exactly the "JOB" of a dispatch center is.

    Any insights and comments you have are welcome!

    Thanks a bunch!
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamsonFCDES
    Does anybody have a general definition for what a dispatch center is?
    A dispatch center is where stuff gets dispatched from.
    Quote Originally Posted by SamsonFCDES
    Does anybody have any good mission statements for dispatch centers and dispatchers?
    A Dispatch center's mission is to provide the first line of communication between the public and emergency services, and to support the personnel in the field
    Quote Originally Posted by SamsonFCDES
    It comes back to a recent incident where one of our Law Deputies told dispatch that their "job" was to "listen to what we tell you to do."
    actually, a dispatcher's job is much more than to just listen to what they are told to do. they do need to, but they also need to coordinate resources, act as a liason between the public and the responding agency, and act as the first emergency services professional that a caller deals with when they are having an emergency.
    Quote Originally Posted by SamsonFCDES


    That didnt seem to fit the description of a all hazard dispatch center to me.

    So, what I am looking to do is DEFINE what exactly the "JOB" of a dispatch center is.

    Any insights and comments you have are welcome!

    Thanks a bunch!
    Assuming we are on the same page, a dispatch center's job is to dispatch. they send units where they need to go, they keep track of all the units on the road, they coordinate interagency operation, and they keep field units apprised of important information that they will need for their operations.

    Dispatching is not as easy as many field personnel think. on a slow day, sure, even my little brother could do it. but when all hell breaks loose, I'd rather be out in the field then inside chained to the desk. At least in the field, I only have to deal with one emergency at a time, but a dispatcher has to deal with 5-10+ seperate different emergencies simultaniously, and that's not including those that have occured that have no units available for.

    One thing both sides need to realize (and this is the same with ER Staff and EMS personnel) is that both sides have hectic jobs, and both sides think the other side is a bunch of idiots. field crew "That stupid dispatcher sent me to the wrong location, got poor information about the cal, and never acknowledges when I call." Dispatcher "That stupid fire chief/amblance crew/cop went to the wrong location/I can only pass along what I am told/ and I'm busying doing 15 things, he will have to wait his turn for me to get back to him. and while he's responding to the chest pains call, I have to dispatch ALS, a first responding PD or FD unit, and I've got a motor vehicle crash to deal with, where I don't konw if there are any injuries, and an automatic burgler alarm just came in at the local bank. and I really need to pee, and there is no one who can watch the desk while I go, so I got to wait."

    I don't know if this helps, but good luck.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    The answers you seek could take up a book in explanation. There is no simple definition of what a 911 center is. You could use wikipedia.org to get generic definitions, like for PSAP: at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSAP

    I wouldn't call 911 centers support personnel either. That is very argueable. I work WITH, not FOR, my field units to accomplish goals. I'm not their personal secretary.

    You can also use dispatchmonthly.com to find mission statement examples and a whole lot more info in general.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim911
    I wouldn't call 911 centers support personnel either. That is very argueable. I work WITH, not FOR, my field units to accomplish goals. I'm not their personal secretary.
    I'm not trying to start a fight, but I will say dispatchers are on the same level as OEM, county coordinators, and other people who coordinate resources. a good dispatcher can make a scene run smoothly or cause it to go down the tubes (and I know many scenes that have gone down the tubes). but they are support personnel, they aren't actually the people doing the stuff.

    but also keep in mind, a dispatcher only does what he or she is told. they have written protocols written by the fire chief for fire operations, medical personnel for EMD call, and LEO supervisors for PD stuff. most of what they do is black and white (if this happens, do this, etc), and they have protocols for what should happen. it's not a slam, it's just the nature of the job.

    a dispatcher is not my personal secretary, but I, as a field person, do tell them what to do (call ALS, cancel ALS, get me FD, contact PSEG, etc), and I expect them to do it for me. They get the call, they send me, once I, as the field person, arrive on scene, then dispatch is supporting me in the operation.

    sorry if you take offense to your job description.
    Last edited by DrParasite; 05-15-2006 at 04:58 PM. Reason: damn typos
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    It's not my job description, so none taken.

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    Interesting discussion topic. And I apoligize in advance for going on for so long, but I hope to be giving you some information and encouragement. So, here goes:

    As has been posted, the job of dispatch is, basically, to receive information from a caller and transmit it accurately to the appropriate responder(s). But that is really the least of what is done by truly professional "dispatchers" (or, better, "telecommunicators").

    We actually pride ourselves on our ability to not only transmit information, but to understand the needs of our responders, whether officers, firefighters or medical personnel. We maintain a large volume of information and keep abreast of as many resources as possible in order to answer virtually any question as quickly as possible and to provide whatever assistance may be needed, no matter how unusual.

    This pride, and our abilities, are the result of a great deal of effort on the part of everyone who has been involved in directing, supervising and working in this department over the years. In the beginning, I know there was some uncertainty about the usefulness of a completely civilian combined dispatch operation, but the first dispatchers were trained by each of the existing dispatch operations - namely the police department, sheriff's department and the full time paid fire department. In fact, after the combined center opened, a firefighter was assigned to sit with our personnel for the first couple of months to be sure they were working effectively to dispatch the FD as they were used to being dispatched.

    Now, 23 years later, new officers are required to spend an 8 hour shift sitting in the center to get some understanding of how much we actually do, and how much we are capable of doing for them. FD crews stop by with new personnel, but just for a brief visit and tour, and our center is available for members of any volunteer department to spend time becoming familiar with our operation, and all personel are invited to return on their own to spend a few hours with us, especially on Friday & Saturday nights.

    In addition, all of our new personnel spend at least one full shift riding with the City PD and the Sheriff's Dept, and, as well as we can, at least get a tour of the FD's stations, and they can ride with the various departments after training (and even get paid to do so). We also try to get all our new personnel to the APCO (Association of Professional Communications Officers) 40 hour dispatch training course, as well as provide a solid on the job training program that takes 4 to 6 months for most trainees.

    I haven't met a law enforcement officer, firefighter or medical responder who would be willing to work in this department, simply because of its complexity. But there are very few of our personnel who would consider another job, mostly because of the satisfaction we get from providing the best possible service to our callers and to our responders.

    If the dispatch center you are talking about is new, I would suggest doing what you can to encourage them and help them achieve the level of professionalism that will enable them to give you the kind of service that will make you proud to work with them. If the center has been in service for some time, and there are problems between them and the various agencies, I would suggest trying to work with their supervisory personnel, offering to help them to improve interdepartmental relations. From my experience, a combined, civilian, independent communications center is a very effective way to provide the quickest, most effective response to those in need, regardless of who they may be.

    I hope I have given you the kind of information you can use. If not, or if there is anything else you would like to ask me, please feel free to contact me.
    Joe O'Keefe

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    Thank you all very much for your replys! Very insightfull and usefull information.

    Thanks again for commenting on this complex issue.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

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    The following is presented courtousey of FAD Frank Raffa's web site www.fdnewyork.com.

    The Flow of an alarm

    There are 5 separate and distinct functions preformed by dispatchers in each office. They are: alarm receipt, voice alarm, decision dispatcher, radio in, and radio out.

    The Alarm Receipt Dispatchers (ARD's) answer incoming phone calls. There are multiple incoming 911 tielines, direct dial lines, operator assisted lines, and direct dial non-emergency lines. Additionally there are an assortment of tielines from alarm companies, government agencies, transit dispatchers, bridges & tunnels, utility companies, etc. Each ARD has a console that receives calls from ERS boxes. When the ARD takes all the information, the alarm is sent to the Decision Dispatcher (DD).

    When the alarm is presented to the DD, the CADS recommends the nearest units. The DD decides if the alarm can be transmitted as the computer suggests, or if it should be changed in any way. When the DD releases the alarm, fire tickets start printing in the firehouses that are to turnout. If a firehouse's printer is off line, a "pick up" notification is sent to the Voice Alarm Dispatcher (VAD).

    If a company is available on the air, and their Mobile Data Terminal is offline, a "pick up" notification is sent to the radio. The DD is also responsible for making relocations, and allowing for adequate response coverage. It should be noted that until the arrival of companies at the scene, the dispatcher serves as the incident commander. For this reason, he/she has the ability to assign additional or specialized units at his/her discretion.

    The voice alarm is a public address system that connects the central office to every firehouse in the borough. It is the primary backup system to the CADS. The VAD can talk to a single house, multiple houses, a zone of houses, or speak overall. The VAD relays the alarm information to the concerned firehouses. If the CADS is operating normally, and there are no offline printers, the VAD then acts as the primary dispatcher responsible for notifications. For example, all requests for police, EMS, or utility companies, would be performed by him/her. When the CADS is offline, notifications are done by an ARD.

    The radio is staffed by 2 dispatchers, Radio In, and Radio Out Dispatchers. The RO does the talking while the RI enters the appropriate signals into the CADS.

    As you can see, there's more to "the dispatcher" than the voice on the radio.

    FTM-PTB

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