What can I expect when I call 911?
Be prepared to provide the exact location of the emergency, such as an address, a brief description of the problem, your name and the phone number you are calling from.
Why do you ask so many questions?
After we get some basic information from you, we still need to ask a few questions to be certain that we are dispatching the appropriate resources based on the nature of the emergency. If necessary, we will provide post-dispatch instructions, such as CPR, for you to follow while help is on the way. While the call taker is gathering information from you and putting it into the Computer Aided Dispatch system, a separate radio dispatcher is simultaneously dispatching fire department personnel. Be assured that once we have an accurate location and the nature of the problem we are able to dispatch help to you immediately and further questioning does not delay the response.
What schedule do dispatchers work?
At our agency, we work 12 hour shifts, 3 days on and 3 days off. Shifts are typically 7am-7pm & 7pm-7am, there is also a 1pm-1am option. Dispatchers are also required to be available for occasional paid on calls. Should unforeseen circumstances dictate a need for extra personnel the on call person will be utilized.
What do dispatchers do besides answer 911 calls?
Answering 911 calls is only part of what dispatchers do each day. We are also responsible for monitoring and directing fire department personnel over radio channels, communicating with law enforcement and other allied agencies, and we handle county wide fire medic coverage just to name a few things. Please see the careers tab on our home page for more detailed information about the duties and responsibilities of a dispatcher.
Is being a dispatcher stressful?
At times yes, being a dispatcher can be stressful. We are tasked daily with the demanding and fast paced environment of a 911 center. Managing information from multiple sources, making split second decisions, providing life saving assistance to our callers, and doing our best to ensure the safety of fire department personnel are all crucial demands not to be taken lightly. But be assured that an abundance of training, team work, and experience stand behind each and every dispatcher to provide all that is needed to successfully get the job done. Emergency dispatch is one of the most rewarding careers there is.
Why do you ask for my address when you have it on your 911 screen?
Calls to 911 originate either from a landline, (such as your house phone) or a cell phone. While calls from a landline will typically populate our 911 screen with your correct address, there is always the possibility that the phone company records are incorrect. Calls to 911 from a cell phone will usually give only your approximate location but not an exact address. For these reasons, it is always important and necessary to verify your address or location to be absolutely certain we get help to the right location.
How do I make arrangements to do a sit along with a dispatcher?
Sit alongs are a great way to see what it is we do first hand, ask questions, and decide if a career as a 911 dispatcher is something you would like to pursue. To make an appointment for a sit along please call the Center at 916-228-3070
Where can I find out more about qualifications to become a dispatcher and the application process?
Please refer to the careers section of the site for more information about applying and testing to become a dispatcher.