What Does an Emergency Medical Dispatcher Do?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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An emergency medical dispatcher is someone trained in telecommunications, whose major responsibility is taking information over the telephone from those who require emergency care. The emergency medical dispatcher is also skilled at operating the automated dispatch system that relays information electronically. After determining the nature of the emergency situation, the dispatcher will then transmit the information to the proper authorities. To be qualified for his responsibilities, the emergency medical dispatcher will have to receive certification. Many emergency medical dispatchers have prior experience in emergency medicine or public safety, which may have included work as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or volunteer paramedic.

Some of the major emergency medical dispatcher requirements include the ability to hear well and to speak clearly over the phone. Prior to becoming certified, the applicant will also be required to pass a drug and alcohol screening test. Every emergency medical dispatcher is skilled at public interaction, and performs duties effectively during the most stressful situations. When receiving telephone calls from those in perilous or life-threatening situations, the emergency medical dispatcher must be able to accurately and thoroughly take all pertinent information. He must also ask the caller several vital questions.


Those involved in emergency medical dispatching jobs are sometimes referred to as ambulance service control workers. Ambulance service control workers will take calls from individuals who require an ambulance. In addition to gathering pertinent information regarding the nature of an illness or injury, the dispatcher must obtain precise directions to the location of the person requiring assistance.

In most areas of the United States, the dispatcher is known as a 911 emergency dispatcher. Emergency calls are taken through the 911 system. These dispatchers typically work at large call centers, although rural areas may employ 911 dispatchers at smaller stations, such as firehouses.

During a crisis situation, the dispatcher may speak with someone who is excited, distraught, or incoherent. It is an essential duty of the emergency medical dispatcher to try to keep the caller calm. If the caller remains calm, he will be able to describe the details accurately, which helps ensure fast response.

In some cases, an emergency medical dispatcher will have knowledge and training on specific medical emergency procedures. Under certain circumstances, the dispatcher may be required to provide instruction over the phone for resuscitating an unconscious individual. He may also instruct a person on the proper way to control bleeding.



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