Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, also called public safety telecommunicators, answer emergency and nonemergency calls.
Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers typically do the following:
Answer 9-1-1 emergency telephone and alarm system calls
Determine the type of emergency and its location and decide the appropriate response on the basis of agency procedures
Relay information to the appropriate first-responder agency
Coordinate the dispatch of emergency response personnel to accident scenes
Give basic over-the-phone medical instructions before emergency personnel arrive
Provide advice to callers about how they may best stay safe while waiting for assistance
Monitor and track the status of police, fire, and ambulance units
Synchronize responses with other area communication centers
Keep detailed records of calls
Dispatchers answer calls from people who need help from police, firefighters, emergency services, or a combination of the three. They take emergency, nonemergency, and alarm system calls.
Dispatchers must stay calm while collecting vital information from callers to determine the severity of a situation and the location of those who need help. They then communicate this information to the appropriate first-responder agencies.
Dispatchers keep detailed records of the calls that they answer. They use computers to log important facts, such as the nature of the incident and the caller's name and location. Most computer systems detect the location of cell phones and landline phones automatically.
Some dispatchers also use crime databases, maps, and weather reports to best prepare first responders for the situations they will encounter. Other dispatchers monitor alarm systems, alerting law enforcement or fire personnel when a crime or fire occurs. In some situations, dispatchers must work with people in other jurisdictions to share information and transfer calls.
Dispatchers often must instruct callers on what to do before responders arrive. Many dispatchers are trained to offer medical help over the phone. For example, they might help the caller to provide first aid at the scene until emergency medical services arrive.