What Does a Radio Dispatcher Do?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2018
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Working as a radio dispatcher revolves around taking emergency calls and transferring information to an appropriate department. These individuals typically work in police stations, fire departments or other agencies. Some beneficial traits for an individual to have include quick decision making abilities, communication skills and the ability to handle stressful situations. While the specific department that a radio dispatcher may work in can vary, his primary job duties are similar. These include taking calls, acquiring information from callers, notifying appropriate individuals, giving instructions to callers and documenting calls.

Taking calls from the public is the most fundamental duty of a radio dispatcher. Basically, it's his job to answer calls from individuals concerning a variety of emergency situations. For example, if he is working for a police station, he might respond to calls relating to burglary, assault and vehicle accidents. This is why it's crucial for a radio dispatcher to be knowledgeable on how to respond to numerous incidents and efficiently handle each individual situation.

The next step is to acquire relevant information from each caller. In the case of a vehicle accident, he might need to determine the location of the accident, how many vehicles are involved and how severe the accident is. Since a caller is often under a significant amount of stress, obtaining this information isn't always easy; consequently, a radio dispatcher must be able to speak clearly and calmly extract all necessary information from a caller.

Once he has attained enough information, he will notify the appropriate individuals; for example, if he is responding to a burglary call, he might notify police officers and send units to the location. During this time, he will explain the situation according to procedure and go over any other pertinent details. In many cases, a radio dispatcher will also be required to read a computer map and send coordinates to authorities.

This individual will sometimes be responsible for giving certain instructions to callers. For example, if a caller is reporting a drowning victim, a radio dispatcher might explain how to give mouth to mouth resuscitation. This aspect of the job requires a person to be familiar with life-saving procedures and be able to give instruction on a variety of emergencies. Additionally, it's usually necessary for a radio dispatcher to document each call received; including the data and time of a call, the name of each caller, the specific nature of the call and which actions were taken. In general, this information is kept on file in a computer database for future reference.



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