Emergency Medical Dispatcher Training and Education Program Info

Emergency medical dispatchers, also known as EMDs or 911 operators, field telephone calls and dispatch the appropriate emergency personnel to an accident or emergency site. Training for emergency medical dispatchers can usually be found at the certificate level.

Essential Information

Most EMD certificate programs feature an emergency medical call simulation lab, where certificate candidates practice the dispatching and coordinating skills learned in the classroom. These programs can generally be completed in one year or less. Completion of a certificate program could be an educational requirement for pursuing certification in this field. To qualify for admission, students should be prepared to submit their high school transcripts and immunization records. Applicants will also need CPR certification and fluency in English.

Certificate Programs in Emergency Medical Dispatch

These programs concentrate on the skills needed to successfully handle medical emergency phone calls. Below are listed some sample courses.

  • Radio communication
  • Criminal law
  • Telecommunication transcription
  • Call center operations
  • Cultural diversity

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for police, fire and ambulance dispatchers are expected to decrease by 3% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported the median salary of these dispatchers was $38,010 as of May 2015. Nevada and the District of Columbia were the two top-paying regions for this profession.

Continuing Education, Training and Certification Information

Many states have certification requirements for EMDs. These vary between states but often include completing an educational program from an accredited institution and passing a basic skills proficiency exam. Many states also require emergency medical dispatchers to maintain their certification by completing a requisite number of continuing education credits per year. Trade organizations such as the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials have more information on certification and continuing education classes (www.apco911.org).

In addition to successfully completing a program from an accredited institution, individuals interested in EMD careers should expect substantial on-the-job training. Emergency telecommunication systems can differ widely between organizations or municipalities. A period of several months may be needed before a dispatcher becomes comfortable with the phone, computer systems and software required to effectively dispatch emergency personnel.

While employment of emergency medical dispatchers is expected to decline, there are still some jobs available in this field. To prepare for a career and meet state certification requirements, students may wish to pursue an emergency medical dispatch certificate program.

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