Have you saved a life lately?
Are you an individual who can remain calm and make quick, sound judgements in emergency situations? Are you looking for an exciting career in a public safety profession? You should seriously consider a career in public safety dispatching. Dispatchers are a critical element in the team that brings law enforcement, fire protection, emergency medical care, and city services to the community. They are the heart of the 9-1-1 system of California.
Public safety dispatchers must work with a high degree of judgment and independence; they must be able to evaluate emergency situations and make split-second decisions regarding the type of response appropriate for the circumstances. The work can be very intense, but very rewarding!
So, you’re thinking to yourself, "This sounds like it might be the job for me!" Ask yourself,
- Am I looking for work that is exciting and never the same?
- Can I type 35 words per minute?
- Can I keep track of several things going on at the same time without getting flustered?
- Can I read and listen well, remember facts, quickly and accurately compare details, and draw logical conclusions from what I’e read or heard?
- Can I speak clearly and communicate my ideas to others well?
- Do I want good pay and good benefits?
If you can honestly answer YES to all of the above questions, you may be an excellent candidate for a position as a Public Safety Dispatcher.
What does a dispatcher do?
A typical day may start with routine requests by officers for computer data relating to driver’S license and vehicle registrations. You will receive calls from citizens and other agencies requesting information, reporting emergency and non-emergency incidents. You will initiate the response of Police, Fire, EMS, and/or other City and County services to routine or emergency incidents. You will conduct a variety of computer system transactions, which gather or distribute critical information to other employees and other agencies across the Country.
This job is not for everyone!
Many different things are occurring simultaneously that you must keep track of, and at any time, an emergency call will require your full and immediate attention and quick response. This position requires shift work, meaning you will be required to work a variety of day, evening, and overnight (we call them "graveyard") shifts, including weekends and holidays.
OK, You’re still interested, right? Here’S the fine print…
The State of California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.) has developed selection standards, which must be met by individuals seeking a position in this dynamic field. The first step is to take the P.O. Public Safety Dispatcher Examination.
Under P.O. guidelines, applicants for public safety dispatcher must possess verbal ability (including written and oral comprehension), reasoning ability, memory ability and perceptual ability. In addition to the P.O. selection standards, individual public safety agencies may have additional requirements which applicants must meet.
The first step is to register to take the P.O. Written Public Safety Dispatcher Examination.
Your score on this comprehensive written examination may qualify you to participate in the selection process. Many agencies in San Mateo County participate in a Testing Consortium. The participating agencies are the Police Departments in Belmont, Burling, Foster City, Pacific, San Bruno, San Mateo, South San Francisco, and the Town of Coma.
To view information about the next upcoming test, visit the website for the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium (The Academy) at http://theacademy.ca.gov/dispatch
Once the written examination is completed, all consortium agencies will receive the entire list of candidate's names, addresses and scores. All candidates will receive individual test certificates, which will show their individual score. If any of the consortium agencies has a job opening at the time of the written test, they will actively recruit those candidates who scored at an acceptable level. Keep in mind that each agency may have a different passing score that they use to determine who they will recruit for an open position.
When you are contacted by the individual agencies that are hiring, you will need to attach a copy of the above mentioned test certificate to the participating agency's application and follow their particular recruitment process. Each participating agency will have a different recruitment process.
You may wish to consider putting yourself through the P.O. Basic Dispatch Academy in order to learn more about the career of dispatching. This 120 hour course is a POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certified course in Public Safety Dispatching. It is offered in both the regular 3 week format (Monday - Friday), and an extended format (two nights a week for 13 weeks) to assist non-affiliate students in exploring a potential career in Public Safety Dispatching, while still maintaining their current job.
The course instruction includes:
- Radio and Telephone Procedures
- Intro to Law
- Emergency Medical Dispatching
- Full Access Telecommunication
- Missing Persons and Domestic Violence
- Hate Crimes & Sexual Harassment Awareness
- Criminal Justice System Overview
- Cultural Diversity
- Gang Awareness
- Critical Incidents
- Workplace Violence Awareness
- Practical Exercises & More
This course is designed specifically for entry level Public Safety Dispatchers and anyone interested in a career in Public Safety Dispatching. College Semester Units and a Certificate is awarded upon completion. For more information on the dispatch academy classes, click here to be linked to the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium's website.
The Technical Stuff:
A Dispatcher is responsible for public safety dispatch functions on a 24-hour basis, 365 days per year. The number and type of phone and/or radio calls received at any given time cannot be adequately predicted. The job requires simultaneous activation of several response procedures including monitoring and recording multiple response unit activities at single or multiple locations.
All work is performed in an environment which requires the application of speed and accuracy in urgent and, in some cases, life-threatening situations which may be negatively impacted by errors on the part of the incumbent. Persons hired for this position will be expected to perform seemingly incompatible operations concurrently and calmly on a routine basis.
Flexibility in work hours and overtime; sight sufficient to read computer console and other written documents in police records program; stamina for sedentary console operation and dispatching; ability to reach for and see teletype records, computer controls and alarm board; dexterity to operate a telephone console; answer phones; type accurately, (each agency has different minimum wpm requirements) hear alarms, bells and radio; read status board; and emotional stability to remain calm in emergency situations. Shift work is required and work schedules may vary.
Understand and carry out oral/written instructions and procedures; think, speak, multi-task, and act clearly and efficiently in emergency situations; to adequately hear verbal communications at normal sound levels; learn standard broadcast procedures of a public safety telecommunications system; operate standard office equipment; to calmly and effectively deal with irate persons; establish and maintain cooperative relationships with those contacted in the course of work.
Of good moral character, reputation, integrity, reliability and judgment. Candidates will be subject to a formal Police Background Investigation. Not all negative information is disqualifying.
Free from conviction of any crime determined to be a felony or history of disabling psychological factors.
Immigration Reform and Control Act:
To comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, effective November 1986, all potential employees will be required to provide either proof of U.S. citizenship or authorization to work in the United States.
Equal Opportunity Employer:
All participating agencies value a diverse work force. It is the policy of all the participating agencies to provide equal employment opportunities for all employees and applicants for employment meeting bona fide occupational qualifications, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, AIDS/ARC, or disability.