What does a public safety dispatcher do?

A public safety dispatcher works in a call center, typically handling emergency situations.

A public safety dispatcher is one who works in a call center, usually an emergency communications center, to dispatch emergency services. The most commonly dispatched emergency services are police, fire and ambulance. In some cases, the coast guard, national guard and other services may be called in, especially if the emergency is at sea or on a larger scale. The training required to become a public safety dispatcher includes basic CPR and first aid, and may also include psychiatric and stress tests.

Training to become a public safety dispatcher includes basic first aid and CPR.

The first thing a public safety dispatcher must do is assess the situation in which a caller contacts the switch. The first question usually asked is, “What is your emergency?” The dispatcher will also receive a number of different information on their computer screen, such as the caller’s phone number and approximate location in most cases. This helps the dispatcher know where to send emergency services.

Some public safety dispatchers are current or former parademics or emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

After the public safety dispatcher determines the nature of the emergency, he or she must decide which service to send. In most cases, this is not difficult to determine, but in some situations, more than one emergency service may be required. For example, if a caller reports a robbery or shooting, both the police and ambulance services can be called. Even the fire department may be called to such scenes in some communities to provide support for medical personnel.

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A paramedic is responsible for transporting patients to hospitals for emergency care.

After deciding which service is needed, the emergency dispatcher then sends a call over a radio network to that service. This call will usually sound an emergency alert first, followed by the address and nature of the emergency. The first responders will then go to the location and can ask for more information or clarification on problems along the way.

In most cases, the public safety dispatcher will remain on the line with a person until emergency services arrive at the scene. Practice helps in two different ways. First, a calm, reassuring voice keeps the caller calmer in what could be a very stressful situation. Also, if circumstances change, the dispatcher can relay this information immediately, without relying on the caller to call back with additional information.

The public safety dispatcher, after answering a call, may be responsible for recording the call on paperwork, although it is also recorded. Information in the written record may include the time of the call, the number, the nature of the emergency, and the duration of the call. This information may be important for the investigation of law enforcement cases involving criminal activities.

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