Odd, even, north or south – how do I get there? Map reading basics for dispatchers.
One of the most basic tasks and yet awkward to teach is geography. How does one help a new dispatcher learn the jurisdiction of an agency’s response zones, especially a large area? Having an understanding of how the department’s assigned area is laid out will help in the taking of calls for service, coordinating of radio traffic, and handling of in-progress incidents.
First, one must know how what reference books are available for his or her communications center. For example, in a previous agency, I had a standard Thomas Guide (street map), City Water Dept. map, and a map of the city with the police beats & state census tracts marked out. Each radio station had the same City map, but the fire side had the response districts while the police one had the beats. At my current one, I have multiple maps of the state (we’re a State-wide dispatch), a topographical atlas showing detailed locations of water guzzlers, multiple water maps of specific areas, maps of state & regional parks, hunt zone maps, and endless on-line reference resources. At one point, I’ve used each of them.