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Old 12-31-2013, 01:31 PM
 
Location: Southern Oregon
823 posts, read 825,142 times
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I have applied to a dispatching company for 911 emergency in my area. (Oregon) I have been informed that stage one is a skills test. What kind of skills might I reasonably expect to find?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:49 PM
 
Location: FROM Dixie, but IN SoCal
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Effective short-term memory, analytical thinking, ability to follow written procedures, clear verbal communication skills, and (above all) the ability to work well/meet tight deadlines under high stress.

If you don't already know this, you should: a 911 dispatcher's job is more stressful than those of LEOs/firefighters/ paramedics. The LEO/firefighter/paramedic undergoes periodic and relatively short periods of intense stress followed by lengthy periods of relative boredom. The dispatcher has to be ON all the time. Each time the phone rings the dispatcher has to be ready to quickly make all the right "diagnoses", choices and recommendations at every turn, and has to communicate these clearly and succinctly to people who are also highly stressed. Why? Because peoples' lives (including the LEOs/firefighters/paramedics being dispatched) are in their hands, each and every time.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:52 PM
 
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It varies widely by department. Some departments only require a typing and/or computer skills test while others will make you take a written test that covers basic reading, writing, math, and analytical thinking skills. Some departments might even conduct psychological testing and behavioral interviews. Yes, being a dispatcher is extremely stressful, especially if you're expected to dispatch and take calls. Larger departments tend to separate dispatching and call-taking, but the dispatching alone is still very stressful. I've heard many police officers who were either former dispatchers or dispatched temporarily when they needed light duty work say that dispatch is more stressful than being on the streets.
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:00 PM
 
Location: FROM Dixie, but IN SoCal
3,491 posts, read 5,520,068 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L210 View Post
I've heard many police officers who were either former dispatchers or dispatched temporarily when they needed light duty work say that dispatch is more stressful than being on the streets.
Yep. I created the training function for a small but very well-known SoCal city, and ran it for 8 years. They had a world-class police department. I worked closely with them, from the Chief all the way to the janitors, during the entire time. It quickly became obvious that the dispatchers carried a much higher stress load than even the undercover officers.

There's one more thing. My daughter-in-law was a 911 dispatcher for the Santa Monica PD, and later the LAPD, for a total of about 12 years.
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Southern Oregon
823 posts, read 825,142 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nighteyes View Post
Effective short-term memory, analytical thinking, ability to follow written procedures, clear verbal communication skills, and (above all) the ability to work well/meet tight deadlines under high stress.
I hear you saying what the job expectations are. Thank you for that. I think I'm asking more of what to expect on a skills test? What would that look like? What things would it entail.
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:32 PM
 
3,311 posts, read 3,548,414 times
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I would think the skills test would test what you know right now, nothing you can study. You've either got the skills or you don't. Seeing the test beforehand won't help you, I would think.
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:41 PM
 
Location: northwest Illinois
2,331 posts, read 2,637,503 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynach View Post
I have applied to a dispatching company for 911 emergency in my area. (Oregon) I have been informed that stage one is a skills test. What kind of skills might I reasonably expect to find?

Thanks in advance.
CAN you type Moderator cut: snip (60+wpm)
Take 3 calls at once when 2 are screaming in your ear, while looking up 4 addresses at the same time, and answering 1 squad, 2 medic cars, 1 engine ... simultaneously while drinking black coffee??

Last edited by 7G9C4J2; 12-31-2013 at 09:07 PM.. Reason: removed inappropriate and unnecessary phrase
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:49 PM
 
3,072 posts, read 4,274,200 times
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I'm a 911 dispatcher, currently breaking as a SAHM.

I do not find my job very stressful anymore. After the first three years, you get very used to it. There are, of course, situations that can produce adrenaline but Halle Berry's recent movie is completely fictitious - you can just go have a coffee and read a nice magazine after a robbery, without giving it another thought. It has it's downsides, but at least I'm safe and warm with a coffee at all time.

The skills tests vary from agency to agency, but here are some that I have experienced:
- Typing test (this is standard I think), ranging from 60-80+ wpm minimum requirements (you cannot do this job if you cannot type that fast)
- Mapping skills
- Rote memory recall (they might blurt out a description and you will need to be able to recall essential words - word order is generally taught on the job, but you need to be aware)
- Audiology tests (these are not common but I have had one)
- Ability to use Google (we use it for GPS cell coordinates and immediate phone numbers)
- Ability to hear and decipher several conversations at once (as stated by other posters, you will be screamed at by multiple people at once and need to comprehend it all)
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:52 PM
 
3,072 posts, read 4,274,200 times
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And don't worry, it's not really a skills test - more of an aptitude test. You will need to be trained for everything on the job - things like your alphabet, typing codes, 10 codes, priorities, law, all that stuff is learned at work. What testing does is eliminate those who have no potential to learn quickly. There is no room for slow learners or slow workers, they need people who are willing to shut up, show up with a clean slate, and no attitude (know-it-alls are the worst in this job because they make poor decisions that get people hurt).

Most of all, IMO, is assertiveness and confidence. If you cannot be assertive, callers will manipulate you into things that you shouldn't be doing or dispatching. You'll tie up resources in poor places and cause a snowball effect, leading to officers coming to your desk and complaining. You need balls!!!
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:57 PM
 
Location: Northern Illinois
2,187 posts, read 3,612,374 times
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As a former 911 operator - skills would probably include excellent listening skills *as well as hearing skills - there is a distinct difference*, ability to comprehend and anticipate what is being said to you/asked of you, excellent typing skills with an extremely low error rate, ability to memorize details quickly - especially numbers and names, ability to remain calm and collected and project that in your voice at all times, provide courteous responses and refrain from assumptions, rudeness, and always try to clarify the situation with the caller to make sure there is a clear understanding of what the actual problem is. Make sure to always follow protocol, know your area well, ask pertinent questions, and learn to anticipate the needs of the caller as well as the responding officer. Basically - you need common sense, honesty, understanding, desire to do a good job, desire to help people and to succeed. The rest can be taught. The hiring process is grueling - for good reason. Just be yourself and don't hold anything back. Good luck.
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