Public safety telecommunications operators, or dispatchers, work with the police, emergency medical personnel and fire departments to direct first-responder services when they are needed in critical situations. Universities that offer programs in emergency preparedness, as well as many community colleges and vocational schools, provide dispatcher courses that may lead to a certificate or associate's degree.
Here is a list of common concepts taught in dispatcher courses:
- Local geography
- Agency protocols
- Standard procedures
- Dispatch software
- Specialized training for high-risk incidents
List of Dispatcher Courses
Introduction to Public Safety Communications Course
Introductory dispatcher courses outline key aspects of the career and emphasize the skills necessary to begin working in an emergency services communications center. Topics covered include interpersonal communication, radio communication, call handling, public safety telecommunication technologies and legal issues. Students are taught how to prioritize 911 calls and how to provide important pre-arrival instructions to callers. This course is an entry-level training requirement and may be offered alone or as part of dispatcher training program.
Interpersonal Communications Course
Because dispatchers are required to communicate effectively in extraordinary situations in which callers are under duress, they must take a dispatcher course in interpersonal communications. This course emphasizes techniques for obtaining the information necessary to activate an emergency services response. Topics addressed in these dispatcher courses include effective listening, overcoming communication barriers, handling difficult callers and resolving conflicts while being productive and professional. Additionally, dispatchers learn general communication skills for professional interaction with colleagues and the community.
Emergency Medical Dispatching Course
Some programs may require students to take introductory public safety and interpersonal communications dispatcher courses as prerequisites for more specialized professional training. Emergency medical dispatcher courses thoroughly train students in the technical and communication skills needed to respond effectively to emergency calls. Additional skills acquired include providing responding agencies with accurate post-dispatch information and giving callers emergency medical instructions, like how to perform CPR or control bleeding, until services arrive. Location identification and other emerging public safety communication technologies are also addressed.
State Law Course
Dispatchers in some states may also be required to take an applicable law course. The course often covers the definition and process of arrest and citation for both misdemeanor and felony offenses, as well as court processes and dealings. Trainees also learn their role and responsibilities concerning personal protection orders and court testimony. This course may also require trainees to observe some court proceedings for a designated number of hours.