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Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatcher

Dispatcher student looking at computer monitors

Department: Emergency Services

Program Type: Fire Science and Public Safety

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Elgin Community College's emergency dispatcher (PSC) program helps train the future of incident command operators to help with public protection and safety. You'll have hands-on training to develop your skills in information gathering, call processing, call prioritization, radio phraseology, and multi-skill tasking in a simulated 9-1-1 center using a Motorola CENTRACOM II radio console and associated equipment.

After completing your training, many 911 dispatchers at the forefront of this protocol are first responders who absorb the brunt of all the disruption that plagues communities.

The communication mechanism relays distress calls to those in place to service that call as dispatchers. As a public safety dispatcher, you'll be the only link between danger and safety, injury and health, and life and death in a homeland security career. Emergency dispatchers work around the clock at local, state, and federal legal support agencies on designated shifts. Emergency dispatch organizations feed into and support multiple overlapping jurisdictions and bureaus at the state and federal levels.

Prepare for Immediate Employment

As the population continues to grow, the demand for emergency services is likely to increase, leading to a need for more emergency dispatchers. Additionally, this profession has a high turnover rate, so job openings are often available.

You may consider obtaining relevant training or certifications if you are interested in emergency dispatcher jobs. Additionally, gaining experience in related fields, such as law enforcement or emergency medical services, may increase your chances of being hired as an emergency dispatcher.

The future employment outlook for emergency services is good. There is still likely to be a need for emergency dispatchers in areas with high population densities or high rates of emergency incidents. Growth is driven by an increase in emergency calls, which boosts demand for emergency services personnel. Refer to Career Coach to learn more about Emergency services certificates.

Plan of Study and Course Descriptions

Review the ECC catalog for details about the Public Safety Communications plan of study and course descriptions.

Basic Certificates

Vocational Certificates

What training do I need to be an Emergency Dispatcher?

At ECC, formal emergency dispatch training provides comprehensive introductory-level education to satisfy any entry-level position. Further training requirements differ depending on which dispatch level you’re applying for, but further training is always available with all employers.

Most dispatchers work in a government office, at a dispatch console, communicating directly with police and fire departments. Emergency broadband frequencies can be captured by anyone with proper ham radio equipment, which furthers the strength and urgency of the alert. Human services always require the dispatching of first responders, and the more the population grows, the greater demand is for those responders and, more specifically, dispatchers.

How much do Emergency Dispatchers make?

Emergency dispatch operators are hired by municipalities, universities, or public safety subcontractors, and the salary can vary depending on their location and level of experience. Factors that can affect the salary of emergency dispatchers include their education and training level, the type of emergency services they work for (police, fire, or medical), and the region or state they work in. Some emergency systems dispatchers may also receive additional pay for working overnight or weekend shifts or for handling high-stress situations.

What do Emergency Dispatchers do?

Emergency dispatchers are the first line of response in emergencies. They play a critical role in ensuring that emergency services are dispatched to the scene of an emergency as quickly as possible. Police and fire emergency telecommunications jobs require individuals who can remain calm under pressure, communicate effectively and efficiently, and think on their feet.

When a call is received, emergency dispatchers must gather information from the caller about the nature of the emergency, the location of the incident, and the identities of any individuals involved to triage the request properly. They must then use this information to determine the appropriate response, whether it be police, fire, or medical assistance. Emergency dispatchers must also instruct the caller on handling the situation until help arrives. Being bilingual is often highly valued.

In addition to handling incoming calls, emergency response dispatchers must also monitor and communicate with emergency responders in the field. They may need to provide updates on the situation, give directions to the emergency scene, or request additional rescue resources.

Is being a 911 operator a good job?

Overall, emergency dispatchers play a critical role in the emergency response team. They are responsible for quickly and efficiently coordinating emergency services to ensure the public's safety. Being a 911 operator is a high-stress job that requires excellent interpersonal communication and decision-making skills and the ability to remain calm and focused under pressure, often in emergencies. Many of these positions are considered civilian employment opportunities and do not require training as a firefighter, police officer, or nurse.

Learn more about 911 Dispatch Training at ECC!

You can change and save lives with an Emergency Services certification from Elgin Community College.

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