April 18, 2014

Public Safety Dispatcher

It is our desire to hire people for the position of Dispatcher who are not only qualified, but know what they’re getting into before they start.  Therefore, we’ve provided this short page of information to help you decide if this is a job that will fit with your desires, goals, and personality.

The people who call the 911 communications center are not usually happy people. They call because they have a problem and Dispatchers are their first contact.   Dispatchers must have the ability to handle more than one task at a time and operate efficiently in critical and stressful situations.  They must stay calm and be able to communicate with callers, police, sheriff, fire and ambulance crews, and other dispatchers in a team atmosphere in both emergency and non-emergency situations. 

 New dispatchers are given extensive training that lasts 12 weeks or longer. 

 After training is complete, the dispatcher will be assigned to shift, Dispatchers must be able to work a variety of shifts, which may include nights, holidays, and weekends. Dispatchers primarily work two 12-hour shifts and two 8-hour shifts each week. There are times in which a Dispatcher will work one 4-hour shift and three 12-hour shifts each week.  Although dispatchers do not have a “lunch break” they are allowed to eat while working at the console.  

 Job Requirements

  • Keyboard skills sufficient to perform position duties.
  • Must be able to pass the computer based skills test with a score of 80%
  • Must be able to be certified as Emergency Medical Dispatcher within six (6) months
  • Must be able to pass background investigation through NCIC and CCIC and pre-employment drug test.
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Demonstrated experience in performing simultaneous tasks
  • Customer service experience preferred

The Selection Process

The selection process consists of many steps, beginning with a computer based skills test.  The test will take approximately 1.5 – 2 hours and consists of several components that test for spelling, map reading, memorization, reasoning skills, typing speed, multitasking, and several listening skills exercises. 

The test scores and results are provided to applicants at a later time shortly following the testing process.  Those receiving passing score of 80% will move on in the hiring process, which includes a 2-hour observation in the dispatch center and a formal interview.

Part A  – The two-hour observation with a dispatcher in the Communications Center gives you the opportunity to observe the position first-hand and ask questions of a trained dispatcher prior to the formal interview. 

Part B  – Formal interview.    At the interview you will be asked questions like:

  • Why did you apply?
  • What characteristics do you have that will make you a good dispatcher?
  • What kinds of things are stressful for you and how do you deal with stress?

Think about these things before you arrive.

 After the interviews, the top candidates will continue in the process which includes:

  • Complete Background Investigation.
  • The successful candidate is then given a conditional job offer, and will be asked to submit to a pre-employment drug test. 

It is easy to see that the hiring process can take a couple months.  Don’t be discouraged, but if you cannot wait that long to get a job, let us know.  The best way to know if this is the right job for you is to spend a few hours observing in the dispatch center so you can see the work environment and know what it’s really like.  To schedule a time, call the Dispatch Supervisor at 522-3512.  If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact Human Resources at 970-522-9700.