An emergency dispatcher is responsible for taking incoming phone calls from someone in an emergency or distress, and relaying necessary information to those who can respond to the situation. This process can involve police officers, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, or just about any other professional who helps people during emergency situations. The job usually involves practical duties such as answering calls, logging information, and talking to the caller and the officer responding to a dispatch. Beyond such basic requirements, however, there are also the less obvious duties, such as handling the stress of these situations and helping callers remain calm and focused during moments of extreme circumstance or trauma.
Every day, on a very literal level, an emergency dispatcher answers incoming calls from various people who may be experiencing the worst day of their lives and require the services of emergency professionals. These can be calls from someone witnessing a crime or accident, the victims of crimes, people experiencing medical emergencies who need help, or just about any other imaginable situation. Such phone calls can often be heard played during news broadcasts to illustrate the mental condition of a victim or witness, and in such recordings the emergency dispatcher can often be heard as well. In listening to such recordings, it becomes clear that dispatchers must try to remain calm despite the potentially calamitous situation that he or she is hearing through the phone.
This is, perhaps, one of the most important things that an emergency dispatcher does in the performance of his or her duties. While the dispatcher receives incoming calls and information, the dispatcher must remain calm and be able to effectively relay the information to someone who can actually help the person in trouble. This means that an emergency dispatcher must be able to listen to information and distill what is being said down to the most important or immediate aspects, then calmly and succinctly relay that information to a police officer, paramedic, or firefighter.
Many times, potential applicants for emergency dispatcher positions have to undergo background checks and psychological analysis to ensure that they can handle the stress that comes with the job. Depending on where a person works, on an average day a dispatcher may hear dozens of people who are experiencing traumatic events. A dispatcher needs to be able to help the caller remain calm, extract necessary information from the potentially distressed caller, and ensure that help arrives properly.