Hi Reddit! I've been a 911 dispatcher for several years now. I never planned on taking this career track, but have grown to love what I do. I will try to answer most questions to the best of my ability, but remember I do have to adhere to privacy and HIPAA laws.

Proof: http://m.imgur.com/gWXFBUB

Update: Alright ladies and gents, I'm out for now! Remember, National Telecommunicator Appreciation Week is April 13 -19th! So find your local 911 center and send a card, email, or find out if they're hosting an open house and go let them know that they are loved! Maybe even get an IRL AMA going on!

Edit: Wow! Thank you, /u/suchtaco for gold! You all have been so great! I'm so grateful i get to serve awesome people like you guys!

Comments: 557 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

XCrazedxPyroX267 karma

My sister was murdered last year in her apartment by her roommate and he was actually the one who called and reported it and told the operator how to get to the apartment. Listening to that call was the most chilling thing I've ever heard in my whole life. The way he talked about her to the operator. The operator did a phenomenal job of keeping her composure and keeping him on the line. Well I just found out recently that that was the last 911 call she ever handled, she quit about 3 weeks after her paid leave was up. She didn't want to take calls anymore. I want to reach out to her and thank her somehow, but I wouldn't think they'd give me that info. So I want to thank you for your dedication and hard work. If there was a way to figure out how to reach out to that operator, how would you recommend I do so?

Edit: For the curious, I haven't listened to it in a long time, but this is the call.

TADispatch142 karma

The other replies are right - your best bet is to send something to her old place of employment. They should be able to forward it to her. You could include an email or other means to contact you so she would have the option. Thank you for acknowledging her service. I'm proud of her for representing 911 operators so wonderfully.

XCrazedxPyroX52 karma

Thank you for responding. I'll try that. Through the grieving process I never even begun to think about the operator. I just found out the other day, maybe a week or so ago, about her leaving her job. It's been a year and a month since that day, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I really want to reach out to her. Thanks again, I think I'm just starting to ramble now!

TADispatch52 karma

And I'm sorry i didn't say so before,but I'm so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the devastation your family went through and i hope you all find healing and comfort.

-rabid-80 karma

What's the most chilling, or disturbing call you've ever taken?

TADispatch138 karma

When i was a newbie i took one for a man who had gone into an investment company, found his finances had tanked, went outside into the parking lot and shot himself in front of his wife and several other bystanders. I heard him gurgle and thought, "what the hell am i doing here?"

-rabid-53 karma

Damn, that would have been intense for a newbie. Thanks for doing what you do; I feel like you guys are a vital yet often-overlooked part of the emergency services.

TADispatch62 karma

We really all appreciate people who acknowledge us as part of the response team. NationalTelecommunicator Week is coming up (April 13th - 19th) so find a way to thank your local 911 dispatchers!

RJFerret39 karma

Such as? It would seem weird trying to find where they work to go interrupt and shake their hands in appreciation, as much as folks might like to. Calling 911 and asking, "where are you" might be ironic, but obviously problematic.

TADispatch37 karma

Haha! Valid point! I'd look for them in the phone book or online and look for an administrative line number or email address to contact them at. Something as simple asa card speaks volumes and really makes people in our line of work feel like it's worth the late hours and verbal abuse. Just that you're considering doing this for your 911 operators is nice!

Jacobjacob5071 karma

Is it ever "just too much" some days? Have you ever had to leave work early or go somewhere private to recollect yourself?

TADispatch110 karma

I've wanted to leave some days. There was one day in particular where there were three houses on fire, a field on fire, back to back medical calls and the phones ringing of the hook. It all seemed like too much for three dispatchers and a supervisor.

And then there's the calls that make your heart sink. Kids drowning. A woman finding her son after he committed suicide by hanging.

OATTTNH42 karma

What do you instruct a caller to do when they say they've come across a person in a noose?

-DisobedientAvocado-139 karma

"Are they dead for sure?"

"I don't know"

"Can you make sure they're dead?"


"Okay, now what?"

TADispatch58 karma

Ha! The old standby!

Psych2MD15 karma

You're one tough customer, to be able to laugh along. Which makes me wonder -- is there much in the way of gallows humor that you engage in at work, in order to make it through the day? I'm sorry for the unfortunate pun.

TADispatch43 karma

Well that one there is an old joke we tell each other. I'm sure you've heard it... two guys hunting, one gets shot on accident, the other calls 911 and says i think my buddy's dead! The operator tells him check to make sure if he's dead. The caller shoots him again and says ok he's dead, now what?

We all have really dark senses of humor. It's s coping mechanism to deal with all of the stress and tragedy.

TADispatch76 karma

Cut them down so we can begin CPR.

JohanP8862 karma

What's the weirdest call you've recieved?

TADispatch186 karma

Gosh, I'd have to say the calls where people dial in their pocket and don't realize they have an audience. I've heard couples having sex, I've heard drug deals go down, and my personal favorite is people singing. One guy made up a song about diarrhea. I listened to the recording dozens of times!

KingInTheNorthAMAA61 karma

The diarrhea song guy could have been my brother.

TADispatch112 karma

Tell him i love his work.

tedje9128 karma

Awesome! But do you have time for that? If you hear it is a pocket call and there is nothing wrong don't you have to hang up and be available for the next caller? (Dutch here so I don't know much about your job)

TADispatch45 karma

It kind of depends. We're trained to hear key noises that give away an emergency so we're pretty efficient there, but if there's nothing else going on and we've got something funny we might spend a couple minutes listening. There are usually three to five of us on duty so being available for call after call isn't usually an issue unless it's a period of high volume (when people get off work, when there's bad weather, etc.)

DaveIsMyBrother62 karma

If I call 911 for an emergency, what is the most important thing for me to do?

I know there are many types of emergencies, so here are two examples:

  • Someone has broken into my house and I'm hiding in a closet and afraid they will hear me.

  • I'm first to arrive at the scene of a terrible car crash on an Interstate, but I don't know exactly where we are.

Hamburglar_Helper110 karma

I'll answer you! I used to work 911 and do fire/ems dispatch similar to OP. The most important thing is to give the address or location of the emergency. For your first example, whispering the address would be best. We also practiced a tactic where we would ask yes or no questions and have the caller hit a key on their number pad once for yes or twice for no. That would probably work best for your first scenario. Most of the time, we could use cell towers to get close to where the caller is, so we could narrow it down relatively quickly. For your second scenario, it would be a bit trickier. We could probably find what road it is on. If you knew which road, then we could send rescue crews from two directions. For example, if it is a north to south interstate, we would start crews from the north heading south and vice versa until they found the accident. Like I said before, the cell towers are useful and we could probably get pretty close, given it's in an area with decent towers. Hope this helps!

TADispatch92 karma

Awesome answer! Dispatcher fist-bump!

stripeslover56 karma

Have you seen that domestic abuse commercial where the women calls 911 and pretends to order a pizza? Have you ever gotten any calls like that? Would something like that actually happen?

TADispatch77 karma

Yes. One woman asked for an insurance quote. We've coached people to talk to us like family members or the electric company.

LurkersWillLurk21 karma

If I were to say something along the lines of "I would like the 11-99 combo and delivery", would the dispatcher recognize that as the police code for "I need help immediately"?

TADispatch42 karma

Not since the move to plain speech. Some of us use ten codes still but since 9-11 the standard is to use plain speech. But from the context,the dispatcher would probably catch on.

LocalSportsTeam2356 karma

Have you ever answered your cell phone, off duty, asking "Whats your emergency?"

TADispatch115 karma

Guilty. I've also left voicemails that say, " this is 911 we got a call from your phone, if you have an emergency...er... hi mom, it's me... I'll be over Sunday for dinner. "

moonkeh52 karma

Do you generally get much information about what happens after you've taken a call?

I imagine it would be incredibly frustrating to get a five minute snapshot of the most stressful day in a person's life then never get to hear about what happened afterwards, whether they were okay etc.

TADispatch47 karma

It is sometimes gets frustrating, but i kind of let it roll off my shoulders. Sometimes we get to know the outcomes because it's one of the agencies we dispatch for.

sanantoniobay45 karma

Are you a certified peace officer? Can you make an arrest as an officer of the law? Where does your authority start and stop?

TADispatch68 karma

Not a sworn officer. I'm primarily a fire dispatcher. My authority begins with the phone and ends with the radio. I cannot arrest anyone and do not carry a gun.

sanantoniobay22 karma

Thank you for your answer.

TADispatch40 karma

You're welcome! I just want a cool badge! We used to have them, but my boss was afraid people would target us or ask us for help we couldn't give, so we phased them out (before i got a chance to get one).

_Nawabi17 karma

or that youd go around in public waving your fancy badge pretending to be a cop. Im sure thats happened a few times.

TADispatch36 karma

I mean, not me! I'd just like it because some of the other dispatchers have them and I've got envy issues lol! But i realize that with great badge comes great responsibility.

_Nawabi14 karma

Oh sorry I meant "you" as a general blanket term. :P

TADispatch11 karma

No worries, i got ya! :)

neutronpenguin39 karma

What's the most light-hearted or funniest call you've had?

TADispatch110 karma

A man once called because he wanted a refund from his prostitute because he wasn't satisfied with her performance.

DecisiveWhale33 karma

How was that situation handled?

TADispatch89 karma

The gentleman was politely told to drop the issue and not call 911 again for that or he would go to jail.

Zerd8596 karma

My sister-in-law wasa a 911 dispatcher for years.

Best one she told me was an older woman that called because she let her dog outside to do its business and a stray ran up and mounted her dog in her yard and started having sex.

She called to report another dog was raping her dog.

TADispatch37 karma

That is AMAZING!

Alkaven547 karma

I just want to say that I love how much you're replying. You're really good at AMAs. You should pick up a bunch of other interesting careers and do one for each.

TADispatch24 karma

Thank you! That's a really great compliment to receive!

TADispatch19 karma

The gentleman was politely told to drop the issue and not call 911 again for that or he would go to jail.

xsavarax35 karma

We can all imagine the sad stories, the horror stories, the amount of human pain you've seen. But what was the most heartwarming call you've ever had?

TADispatch84 karma

A woman stopped at the scene of horrific vehicle accident and held the hand of a young woman until she was airlifted to a hospital. She laid in the mud for almost an hour.

jkeller400035 karma

911 calls for suicide?

when is a suicidal thought an emergency?

It is something i always wonder, many therapists have told me to call 911 in a suicidal crisis. but it never seems very clear at what point do i call 911?

so when should a suicidal person call for help?

TADispatch42 karma

As someone who had also had this problem in my own life, i understand your point. It's really a personal thing i think. For me, it would be when i start making plans. If i have a specific plan, things are getting serious. But like I said, it's a very personal thing and only you know what your danger zone is.

criminalmind1313204 karma

20 plus years ago, when cell phones were not as prevalent as they are today, I was in a very bad place mentally. I was homeless, addicted to drugs, all alone and over 1000 miles away from home. It had been almost 2 years since I had spoken to any of my family and no one knew where I was. I was not suicidal, but definitely in deep depression. I wanted to just talk to someone. I figured that the people at the suicide prevention hotline must be professional talkers, but I didn't even have a quarter for the pay phone. I knew that 911 was a free call and I hoped that they could connect me to the suicide prevention hotline. When I explained my situation to the 911 operator she started asking me questions like "Why do you want to kill yourself?" I explained that I didn't want to kill myself, I just wanted to talk to someone. She continued to ask a bunch of questions and after a short while I started to get frustrated because she wouldn't connect me with the hotline. I was standing at a payphone outside of a convenience store and after about 7 or 8 minutes I turned to look around and a police unit was pulling up on me. I quickly realized she had been keeping me on the line until the officer got there. I told the operator I had to go because I thought that the police wanted to talk to me. She asked if there was an officer there now and when I said yes, she told me that she hoped things got better for me and that I should hang up and go talk to the officer. Long story short, that police officer listened to my story, tracked down my family and confirmed my story and took money out of his own pocket to put me on a bus back home to my family. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if not for that 911 operator I would be dead today, not from suicide, but because of the lifestyle I was living. My mother sent Christmas cards to that police officer every year until her death. There was no way for us to find out who the 911 operator was so I want to thank you for the work that you do. I know that I could not do your job. And I might add, I have been clean for over 22 years now.

TADispatch59 karma

From the bottom of my heart i am so happy for you! I seriously got teary eyed!

In all truth i didn't see this story ending the way it did, i thought you would be angry about the policies. I was fully prepared to explain why we did that, because I've had to do exactly what you've described. I'm just so happy your story had a happy ending.

vinnch35 karma

How often do you get calls from people who "accidentally" stuck something up their butt?

TADispatch16 karma

More often than i thought they would...

rohitknhs33 karma

Can you help me doing my homework?

TADispatch63 karma

Not if it's math... but I'm good with geography!

rohitknhs31 karma

I actually saw a clip on YouTube where a young kid asks a 911 operator to do his homework

TADispatch114 karma

Haha! I once had a kid call and tell me there were monsters under his bed! He said they had eaten his mom! Of course we take every call seriously so I questioned him about what the monster looked like and got quite a wild description! When officers found him, it turned out he had had a bad dream.

tiger825510 karma

inb4 "waste of resources"

That's adorable :p

TADispatch34 karma

Well, our saying is "when in doubt, send em out." I couldn't rule out that the "monster" want his way to describe something an adult would name as a home invader or an animal. Although this was decidedly cuter!

KiwiCop30 karma

Cop here - do you appreciate my puns on the air? They always seem to just hang on the air waves. I like to imagine dispatch collectively roaring with laughter.

Also, my personal phonetic alphabet on uneventful night shifts. Enjoyable or lame?

TADispatch22 karma

Love them! We're trying to contain the laughter while the supervisor is giving us the stink eye!

damiankw26 karma

Do you feel that all of your peers should be doing the job they are doing, directly talking to people on the other end of the phone? Is there anyone who might have been there for too long, or not enough and just don't care?

TADispatch46 karma

Sadly, all of those. Compassion fatigue is a real problem that all of us face. It makes me angry when people half-ass at our job. I try to catch myself if i start feeling apathetic, by remembering that I'm supposed to be there for people on their worst day. Since I'm also a training officer, i train all of my newbies to be self aware and to give their best when people are at their worst.

themooninthesky19 karma

There was a really good scene in a show recently where a fellow police officer/their friend had been murdered and the next day their Sergeant told them all "everything is going to seem trivial to you today. But remember they've had to call the police, this is them at their worst, so you need to remember to be at your best and be compassionate". I really liked that.

TADispatch14 karma

That's awesome... and deep.

Wily_Cahoots25 karma

Did your start this line of work because of your love of the TV show, hosted by Bill Shatner, Rescue 911?

How does one go about getting a job in radio?

But seriously, thanks for your service to your community.

TADispatch26 karma

I used to LOVE that show as a kid! It always gave me goosebumps! I guess it was foreshadowing that I would work in emergency services when i watched that shoe and read all of the emergency pamphlets in hotels.

TheAcolyteInitiative24 karma

Have you ever had a call that left you scratching your head, our totally blowing you mind?

TADispatch83 karma

All. The. Time. We have to think outside the box all the time because we get calls like one i had where a cat's toenail was stuck in a bathroom sink (cat still attached to toenail). We sent the fire department to extricate the kitty. It was successful and no kitties were hurt. :)

RJFerret22 karma

You didn't plan on this career, so what path brought you to it?

When called, what information do you seek first?

What is the most annoying habit of true emergency callers, and what would you have folks calling in do differently to alleviate it?

What impact do callers with location disabled on their mobiles have?

Are latitude/longitude coordinates as useful for responders as a nearby street address for outdoor incidents?

Do you have text/SMS 911 available yet? How does the less interactive nature of texting impact things? (Or if not enabled for you yet, what do you anticipate/have you heard? Will procedures be different than verbal?)

What other modern forms of communication might be adopted, since texting is being replaced by online/mobile chat services.

TADispatch29 karma

Wow! Ok, here we go: I was fresh out of college and needed to find a job. It seemed promising, but scary and i told myself I'd find another job the whole first year. Here i still am though!

First question is always, LOCATION! They stress that all through academy because without location, nothing else matters.

The most annoying thing people do is start dumping information as soon as we answer the line. If it's something you think you'll forget like a license plate, by all means, provide it right after you give your location. Otherwise, let your operator question you,as the order of the questions usually has a reason.

As for callers with location deactivated, I'm not sure what the effects are yet... we've never been informed if it effects our ability to use our wireless ping.

Latitude - longitude are very useful when you're somewhere without streets like a mountain or on the water. Otherwise we operate on preprogrammed computer programs with nearly all of the streets in our jurisdiction programed in. If you know what street you're on or near, it's always faster to locate you.

We have very limited text to 911 abilities utilizing a program called Smart 911. The text has to be initiated by the 911 operator. We have not ever used it to date.

We're working on full text to 911 integration and all policies and procedures within the next couple of years.

Alkaven511 karma

Once I called 911 and promptly forgot my address. It was a few months after I'd moved into a college dorm and I hadn't had a reason to use the street address, only the building/room number. Since my school (a large state school) has its own police department I assumed they would have their own call center as well, because I don't know how these things work.

Anyway, since you speak for the trees, I would like to apologize for that incredibly frustrating call.

TADispatch14 karma

Speaking for us trees, we totally understand. Before i worked here i had to call 911 when a little old man collapsed in our parking lot. Being a moron, i thought my phone would teach the 911 center in my hometown instead of where my university was. I wasted two minutes of that dispatcher's life explaining that i wasn't actually where she thought i was. I felt so stupid when i found out how it worked.

Flawfinger19 karma

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

TADispatch41 karma

Pineapple and Canadian bacon!

thenebular48 karma

In Canada we call that Hawaiian. We also call the bacon what it is, Ham.

TADispatch7 karma

Straight shooter. I like you.

I_am_spoons18 karma

Have you ever heard anything interesting from someone who butt dialed 911?

TADispatch29 karma

Usually just people going about their days... but occasionally they're In the middle of a drug deal or having sex.... but the best are when they're singing. People sing their hearts or not knowing I'm listening and giggling.

invainattempt13 karma

Have you ever gotten a call and it turned out it was from someone you knew personally?

TADispatch20 karma

Not really. I'm not from the area where i now live so i don't know many people. There was a call for the place where my spouse was working. It was a shooting. I was terrified. Turns out some person forgot to put the safety on their gun and it went off. Shot themselves in the foot.

siblbombs11 karma

Has your PSAP ever gone offline? I managed to knock out our city's PSAP for ~10 minutes, but the county stayed online fortunately.

TADispatch14 karma

We have four backup systems in place that are tested monthly. We've also got a backup site in case the problem is with our location (ex. a bomb, fire, or other catastrophe)

aariakon10 karma

As a fellow 911 operator and police dispatcher, how big of area do you dispatch for? What shifts do you work? Do you guys have retention problems too? I started 2 years ago, and already 24 people have quit due to crap hours, being treated like shit, and insane overtime... For example, over the course of 7 days I worked 106 hours. It was very common for most of us to work 70-80+ hours a week.

Last but not least, best call?

TADispatch15 karma

We have a population of about 250,000. We have major retention problems. Since I've been employed we have lost nearly 60 employees.

Honestly i don't know how you guys are managing with 70-80 hour weeks. We have overtime available every week but those kinds of hours aren't normal for us. We work a weird schedule but it works. Two on, two off, three on two off, two on, three off.

Best call... hmmm.... I've been told that my best calls are suicides. I once got a woman to give me her address, put down her weapon and peacefully go to the hospital. They're stressful but I feel a real connection to those people and their pain.

derekm323f10 karma

Is it difficult to "switch off" after a shift or is it easier to do the longer your in the job?

TADispatch19 karma

I love to talk shop with others in my field and it helps that I've got a lot of friends who swirl in emergency services too. It helps me unwind but i do find myself more keen to listen for sirens or to rubber - neck accidents.

I do bring the stress home, but I've got a great family who is really supportive on my bad days.

saltinado10 karma

How did you end up in this career path, I know you said you didn't plan on it, but what's the path that lead you to being a dispatcher?

TADispatch13 karma

I was a recent college grad with big student loans and no money. I saw an ad in the paper and thought, "i think i could do that." I applied and went through a year long training academy. It was the hardest year of my life, but it had been so rewarding!

notfromantarctica9 karma

What is the pay like?

TADispatch13 karma

When i started it was about 25K plus benefits. Now I'm at about 38k plus benefits.

faketanned2 karma

What was so hard about it?

TADispatch4 karma

Long hours, huge amounts of information, a new geographical area to learn, and procedures... so many policies and procedures. You have to learn all of this information and then multitask it into action.

venisonfurs8 karma

What do you do when the person loses the ability to form coherent words because they are so scared, such as an in an intruder in the home, but still manages to dial 911? I didn't have a landline.

TADispatch13 karma

We have several techniques to control a caller that are fairly effective. We can also "ping" a location on a cell phone which is fairly accurate.

doopercooper8 karma

What's your work station like. What is in front of you, a keyboard and monitor...what else?

Can you give a run through of the full process when someone calls.

For example, someone calls in and says they just saw a car go off the road

TADispatch25 karma

Let's see: one keyboard, five monitors, two speakers, two mouses (mice?), an Emergency Medical Dispatch flip chart, and a PTT (radio) mic.

When I answer the phone i move from one computer to the next we have a total of 3 CPUs at my current desk) using a series of keyboard commands to enter information into a computer aided dispatch program (CAD). I'll move back to the other computer using keyboard commands to "re-bid" or "re-ping" a wireless call. I'll interview the caller and enter data, and notify the correct agencies that need to respond (law enforcement, fire, ems). If the call requires fire, I'll dispatch from my console using a third computer and a foot pedal that allows me to go from talking on the phone to broadcasting on the radio seamlessly.

obnoxiouscats8 karma

Have you ever taken a phone call that was completely out of your's or the callers control? I mean regarding bad phone lines, loud noises in the background, half-conscious or drunk caller? Or situations where you're unable to get the details you need for serious crimes and stuff like that?

TADispatch8 karma

All the time. I'll get a totally awesome, calm caller and the people in the background are flipping their lids and i can't hear a freakin thing. It's frustrating, but i get what i can and work with what I've got. If all I've got is the location then we'll start with police and let them request ambulance or fire when they get on scene.

NYCZaru8 karma

If I called 911 just to confirm that it works, would I go to jail? This is a legitimate concern of mine.

aariakon11 karma

Another 911 guy here. Nope. But don't make a habit of it :)

TADispatch7 karma

This guy knows what's up!

snapsticks8 karma

That operator who hung up because the caller was swearing. Is there any way an operator could ever justify that? Just curious.

TADispatch15 karma

We're instructed to gather as much information as possible, regardless of the belligerence of the caller... to a point. If they have nothing else to offer, we don't have to stay on the line and be abused.

Although one exception comes to mind. Someone once basically held me hostage on the phone. They told me that if I said a word or hung up they would commit suicide.

obnoxiouscats5 karma

What was the outcome of that? What ended up happening? And can you respond to my question pls.

TADispatch16 karma

The person called five or six times to verbally abuse us. They called us horrible things and kept walking so our ping couldn't quite catch them.Turns out the caller was mentally ill. They were located by police and transported to the hospital.

Carichey7 karma

When I am 10 minutes away from the end of my shift, and 3 other trucks just came on - Why do I get the fucking non-emergent transfer for SNF > dialysis?

Edit: I'm only kidding. I would never want to upset the EMS god. (but seriously though... WTFtransfer)

TADispatch7 karma

Because the Lord of EMS/Fire is displeased with your offering of 12 hours! Bwahahaha!

enternameinthisfield7 karma

Can you please send help?

TADispatch21 karma

What's your location?

onlyhalfantimony7 karma

What was the training like for your job? Anything you particularly liked or didn't like about it?

TADispatch8 karma

One year of training. It was like boot camp. I was terrified of answering the phone and constantly looking for another job. I now train new hires and i try to ease them in. I hated feeling like it was sink or swim. I try to let my trainees know I've got their back.

SokaneCaedas7 karma

Hello, I've been wondering if one of us had done one of these.(been in the center for 12 years)

My center recently started using text to 911 and while I have some opinions on it, I am curious if your center uses it? And if so, what are your thought?

TADispatch10 karma

We don't have it yet... and we're all apprehensive. Part of what makes us us, i think, is that we're control freaks and text to 911 takes some of that control away.

SokaneCaedas7 karma

I tend to agree... The background noise is something I find valuable and just don't get that from text. Also the fake/prank rate is vastly greater on text for some reason.

Thanks for the response

TADispatch8 karma

Wow, so i take it you guys don't like it? What are your policies for the prank texts?

l0wbacca7 karma

Have you noticed an increase at all of accidental emergency dials with the "ease" of doing so from smart phones?

TADispatch7 karma

SO MUCH. Ahem, sorry... yes! It probably accounts for nearly 50 percent of our calls.

TECHI146 karma

What is the salary range for your position?

TADispatch12 karma

I make about 38k, starting pay is about 25k. We have fully paid health insurance and retirement. The total package is somewhere around 50k for me.

Folcwald6 karma

I actually in the hiring process to become a dispatcher! They are picking 4 out 9 of us. If I make it, have any thoughts or advice for me?

TADispatch18 karma

Start learning how to hear lots at once. Turn your tv, radio, and computer all on and try to absorb information. Get yourself used to the inundation of sounds. There are also apps that let you listen to radio traffic from all over the US... I'd recommend listening to it to familiarize yourself with lingo and learning to listen to the radio. Good luck!

lingsmitty726 karma

What is the best thing I can do to avoid harm if someone breaks into my house? Say I am a single woman with two children. I have a shotgun that I can get to, but my first thought would be to get my kids safe. Do I dial 911 first? Get the kids safe first? Or get the gun? I spent six years in the army and a lifetime around guns. I would not hesitate to use one on an intruder. But I'm not sure what the most effective step should be.

TADispatch8 karma

Call 911 first. Really, it's hard to tell you what to do at this point. You know how to use your gun, and this is where you have to make a choice. As for the kids, i would do drills with them ahead of time so they knew what to do. It's a tough question. There's no right answer besides call for help.

BrutallyHonestDude6 karma

Have you ever told someone off or had them arrested for swearing when they were obviously in a panic?

TADispatch13 karma

No, i pride myself on remaining professional under stress... though I'll confess, some have gotten under my skin. One guy threatened to find and kill me and that was unnerving.

karmacraze5 karma

Have you ever watched the tv show Rescue 911? I never thought I'd end up in dispatch but do recall a fondness for that show...lol they are recruiting us early

TADispatch5 karma

Loved the hell out of it!! It made me have adrenaline rushes as a kid!

____DEADPOOL_______5 karma

What are the types of calls we shouldn't make to 911 and instead call the police department directly?

TADispatch9 karma

Anything where you don't need an officer to respond to your location, really questions about legal stuff. At least at my center since none of us are formally trained in law.

diatho4 karma

how do you handle the information overload? With the transition to full NG911 you are going to be seeing images/video on top of voice and trying to use a CAD system. Have you been given any training or are you just expected to figure it out?

TADispatch7 karma

We've been briefed on it, but no formal training so far. We're all nervous about it and there's been a lot of Chatroulette jokes.

RookieNo143 karma

In what aspect of your job do you like most?

TADispatch7 karma

The challenge, that it's never the same day twice, and my best friends are some of my coworkers. On slow nights we play pranks on each other or play cards or tell jokes. Some of the best people in the world.

pm_me_your_silver3 karma

Do you ever receive any of the "Thank you much" people show officers and EMTs? There are many people whose jobs behind the front line are crucial but don't receive any thoughtful compliment from those they help. Was just wondering if it would be any different in your case.

TADispatch5 karma

Sometimes. Our bosses try to show us we're appreciated but morale gets low sometimes. It wears on you especially with high turnover and high stress.

somewhereonariver3 karma

What kind of console position do you use?

TADispatch4 karma

We use Positron for the phone system and personal communications iseries CAD.

Drublix2 karma

Why do you always seem to need all this unnecessary bull crap information when someone clearly needs urgent help.


"my child is choking and turning blue, what do I do?"

911: What Is the sex of the child, name and date of birth? Can you spell the name? OK, what happened, blue you say? Hm, did you guys have dinner? What did you eat, oh never heard of that, was it good?


Shouldn't an address be enough?

TADispatch4 karma

It's a valid question. Most of us are certified to give medical pre-arrival instructions that require us to ask those questions. Trust me they're just as maddening to us, but they serve a purpose. They help us in deciding which instructions to provide so that you can provide basic first aid or high quality cpr.

PlayinWithGod-3 karma

If I called and detailed my emergency as a broken heart, would you arrange a date for me?

TADispatch3 karma

Alas, i cannot mend a broken heart!