Questions for dispatchers


May 23, 2010
Midwest USA
So, I am applying to work in a dispatch center, but I am curious if there is a way for me to get certified in priority dispatching prior, to gain an edge on others.
what state are you from,try looking into the apco is one of the requirements most centers require,call taker,medical,fire and police programs.and research your area get to know the unit numbers,geographic area such as townships,boros or however your area is set up. also just about every state has something through emergency management you need to get certified in.any other questions send me a pm i may have some info on programs i can send you
I am not sure if there is a national certification, but practicing on a criti-call type program might be good. Fast Typing is also a great thing to have. In my experience they dont nessicairly like someone that already knows what to do, because every dispatch center does things different. What I learned most from my training (lasted 5 months before I was released on my own) is to listen to what your trainer says, do everything as they say to do it. Then when your on your own develop your own technique of doing things using what you learned
Depending on the state there is no way to acquire a certification prior to some down and dirty on the job training. I'm a dispatcher in Oregon and the states public safety and standards division requires minimum and maximum hours to complete certain stages in training prior to allowing a certification. It even seems silly because local colleges offer classes is emergency communications but as far as I know they don't count for much, just a little dip into what it will be like prior to being hired.

I'm not 100% sure if there is any way to do a sample criti-call test like at home, but that sure would be nice.

I also agree with mfdbenji's point. I find it a little irritating when people question what or why I tell them to do something. When you are dealing with a live call or dispatch scenario and your coach tells you to do something, it's for a good reason, just do it. You can ask questions after. I also think it's very important not to be too sensitive. I've seen people wash out because they couldn't handle harsh criticism, but when you are dealing with potentially life or death situations it calls for a more abrupt intervention or action from your coach. He also made a good point with what we call "styles." Everyone has a different style of doing something, and over the course of your training at most agencies you will have several coaches. You learn each of their styles and once certified it leaves the foundation for you to create your own style.

Good luck in getting hired tho, but find outlets and ways to tell yourself that you did a good job. Rarely will the public ever thank you for what you do.
Cool. Thanks for the pointers. I have a buddy who works there now, and he has told me a thing or 2. he says my vast expirience will help me the most, so that was good to hear. He advised buying a typing software, to sharpen me up a bit.

Also, I will be doing various "sit-alongs" to get to know supervisors, and dispatchers, and show a real interest in the job.
Yes, thick skin is very important!!!

Not only will you catch flack from the public and your bosses, but even fellow dispatchers. Take it all in stride. I used to hate some of the people in my dispatch center, for the way they treated me and how I dispatched. But I have realized that they were just trying to help me be better at the job. Now those same dispatchers are some of my good friends. Remember, your the stranger in there club, you need to prove that you can hold your own, and do a good job at it.

Good luck in getting in, its a great job if you can take it!!!
Some states have minimum training or certification requirements (Ohio does not, except for LE dispatchers that use LEADS.) Many Fire/EMS dispatch centers will give you bonus points in testing if you are already Emergency Medical Dispatcher or Emergency Fire Dispatch certified. My agency requires both and in the process of setting up preference in hiring and possibly starting at a higher rate because of the cost to send people on the clock once they are hired.

During the hiring process or sit a longs, keep your mouth shut with the war stories. We probably have 10 for every one you have. And war stories normally make the teller look good, so we'll take them with a grain of salt..
Don't worry about taking certification classes. If you are hired by the center, they will send you to the class(es). The certifications will do you no good if your not able to apply them. It would also suck for you to take a NA class if they use Power Phone or some other vendor for EMD/EFD/EPD. Also would suck for you to be out of $350+ for a course that they may send you back to or didn't need.

Certifications only help if your going to make a lateral move, if your in an area that allows for such.

Past the test, get hired and let them send you to where you need to go.
dont get me wrong i wasnt trying to tell you to go out and pay out of pocket for any the free stuff so you are aware of the stuff and it will be easier once you are in the training phase.the number one thing like everyone said is typing,in my county i belive it is 40wpm just to get a application. any of the stuff you have to pay for let the center pay to get your certification.dont buy a typing program,listen to a radio or scanner and just type what you hear or use a newspaper and read and type while someone times you.

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