Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, also called 9-1-1 operators or public safety telecommunicators, answer emergency and non-emergency calls. They take information from the caller and send the appropriate type and number of units.
Police, fire and ambulance dispatchers typically do the following:
Dispatchers answer calls for service when someone needs help from police, fire fighters, emergency services, or a combination of the three. They take both emergency and non-emergency calls.
Dispatchers must stay calm while collecting vital information from callers to determine the severity of a situation. They then give the appropriate first responder agencies information about the call.
Some dispatchers only take calls. Others only use radios to send appropriate personnel. Many dispatchers do both tasks.
Dispatchers keep detailed records about the calls that they take. They may use a computer system to log important facts, such as the name and location of the caller.
They may also use crime databases, maps, and weather reports, when helping emergency response teams. Dispatchers may 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 or to transfer calls.
Dispatchers must often give instructions on what to do before responders arrive. Some dispatchers are trained to give medical help over the phone, For example, they might help someone give first aid until emergency medical services get to the scene.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition