911 Dispatchers answer emergency and non-emergency calls for the city’s police department, fire department and emergency medical services (ambulances). They must be able to determine the emergency type and location and dispatch the appropriate service. At times, more than one service may be necessary so they must be familiar with all departmental procedures in order to coordinate the services required for an emergency.
Above all, dispatchers must remain calm and be able to communicate clearly with the caller so they are able to provide the first responder with as much information as possible in order to provide the fastest service possible. Dispatchers are required to advise as to basic life-saving first aide measures or provide information on how one can remain safe while waiting for a response. Our dispatchers also take non-emergency calls and direct callers to the appropriate resource to help provide answers for questions they may have. They also take alarm system calls from answering services and again dispatch the appropriate service necessary. Because of the size of Newport News and the technological knowledge required to accomplish the job, dispatchers go through a year-long paid training period. And, because emergencies happen around the clock, dispatchers are required to work different shifts.
A 911 dispatcher is a communications specialist and the critical link between the first responder and the distressed citizen and assist in preventing crimes and even saving lives.