This is for the Public Safety Dispatchers out there reading this blog. I am working on a major project. I need help with information about dispatchers and dispatch centers. Please, take a look at the survey below and fill it out to your best knowledge. Tell your co-workers and dispatcher friends. For field personnel, pass this on to the dispatch center. Here is YOUR chance to speak out and be heard.
Survey Questions with Multiple Choice Answers for Dispatcher Book Research
Hello, I want to thank you for filling out this survey. In answering these questions, you are helping my research for a factual book on the history of dispatchers. The results will be tallied and included in the text. There are a few questions specific to Supervisors/Managers – please, skip these questions if they do not apply to you. Unless otherwise noted, select only the answer that applies to you – if not exact, pick the closet choice. Only pick one answer per question unless instructed differently.
When done, you can either resave the file and email it to me or print it and mail the completed form to me. Both addresses are listed below. Your name and address are not necessary. If you wish, include a short (one or two paragraph) anecdote. I have included some topics of information I would love to include below as well.
Again, I thank you for your assistance!
Address: P O Box 20367, Reno, NV 89512-0367
Topics for anecdotes:
Firsts in your agency: who was the first dispatcher, first civilian, first radio implemented in your department (one, or two-way), first 911 call (Basic, Enhanced), -you get the picture?
The strangest call you ever handled?
Ever been on TV or in a movie as a dispatcher?
And here we go
Why did you become a dispatcher?
1. Gateway to other Public Safety positions
2. Job allowed me to pursue higher education (once probation was over)
3. I fell in to the job (i.e. asked to learn position to cover for breaks/vacations,etc.)
4. I liked the pay and benefits
5. I heard about the profession and it sounded interesting
Did you work in the Public Safety field prior to becoming a Dispatcher? (mark all that apply)
2. Yes, as a firefighter
3. Yes, as a law enforcement officer
4. Yes, as an EMT or Paramedic (private or 911 contracted)
5. Yes, in the Military (as position not listed)
6. No, as an Air Traffic Controller
7. No, but I dispatched for private company (taxi, tow truck, trucking)
As part of your hiring process, did you (mark all that apply)
1. Take a written test
2. Participate in an oral board
3. Take a drug test
4. Take a polygraph
5. Take a psychological exam
6. Take a hearing test
7. Take a medical exam
8. Have your fingerprints done as part of a background
9. Have an investigative background done by an officer (or other dept employee)
10. Have a second interview
11. Do a practical exam (via a simulator or other hands on test)
If you are no longer work as a dispatcher, or left and came back to the profession, why did you leave the job?
1. I finished my education and moved on to my new career
2. I became a first responder in the field (law enforcement, firefighter, EMT, or Paramedic)
3. I joined the military
4. My spouse/partner relocated
5. A repetitive injury/other work-related injury ended my career
6. I didn’t pass my probation
7. I was terminated
8. I burned out
9. My position was eliminated
In reference to Ride-alongs at your agency…mark all that apply
1. Ride-alongs are for trainees only
2. Fire ride-alongs are with engine companies only
3. Fire ride-alongs are with paramedic units only
4. Ride-alongs are with supervisor approval only
5. Are you kidding? Ride-alongs are for prisoners and patients only.
In reference to sit-alongs at your agency..mark all that apply
1. The Public is allowed with prior Supervisor approval
2. Law Enforcement Rookies are requirement to spend time in dispatch as scheduled by their FTOs
3. Fire/EMS personnel are required to spend time in dispatch as scheduled by their FTOs
4. Our field personnel are shown where dispatch is, so they can drop off paperwork or respond to a call.
5. We’re lucky they know our phone number, let’s not ask for miracles here!
Training is important. When it comes to training, how does your department handle this task?
1. We have a formal academy program, consisting of ____hours total, graduating a dispatcher who is ready to answer a call with minimal guidance.
2. We have a mixture of classroom and one-on-one live mentoring broken up in phases consisting roughly of ____ hours.
3. We have an informal training process, with a new hire assigned a trainer. They work closely together, until the trainer clears the new hire to work alone. This takes roughly ____ hours.
4. Our training is on-the-job. We all help the new person learn, answering the questions as new situations come up.
During your training, did you…mark all that apply
1. Take any quizzes or tests
2. View any multimedia
3. Listen to any recordings
4. Given any handouts (radio codes, criminal codes, CAD codes, etc.)
5. Provided with a copy of the agency’s general policies & procedures
6. Given a copy of the Communication Center policies and procedures
7. Taken on a tour of the facilities
8. Taken on a tour of the response area
9. Taken to local (neighboring jurisdictions) PSAPS
10. Shown department precincts, fire houses, or ems quarters
11. Introduced to administration personnel
12. Given a training outline
13. Given regular training feedback on your progress
14. Allowed to respond to evaluations
15. Given daily observation reports (DORs) with a place to note your comments and a time to review the DORs with your trainer off the dispatch floor
As part of your duties as a Dispatcher…mark all that apply
1. Work as a call-taker
2. Work a fire radio channel
3. Work an EMS radio channel
4. Work a law enforcement radio channel (911 PSAP LE)
5. Work a inquiry only NCIC radio channel
6. Work a partial entry/update/locate NCIC radio channel
7. Work a full access NCIC radio channel
8. Work an Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD pre-arrival instructions) position
9. Work a law enforcement radio channel (non 911 LE)
10. Are you a POST or APCO certified dispatcher
11. Are you a POST or APCO certified Civilian Training Officer (CTO)
12. Are you a POST or APCO certified Supervisor
13. Are you an APCO certified Fire Dispatcher
14. Are you an APCO Fire Service Instructor?
15. Are you an APCO certified CTO Instructor
16. Are you APCO certified EMD
17. Are you APCO certified EMD instructor
18. Are you An APCO EMD Manager
19. Are you a Tactical Dispatcher
20. Are you a TERT member
21. Are you an IMT dispatcher (wild land fire team)
22. Do you make audio tapes
23. Do you teach in a formal academy
24. Do you teach in the law enforcement’s academy (i.e. the communication section)
25. Do you participate in special project in-house
26. Do you participate in special projects outside of your agency
27. Are you an APCO member
28. Are you a NENA member
29. Have you ever served on an APCO committee
30. Have you ever served on a NENA committee
31. Have you ever (or now) been an APCO officer
32. Have you ever (or now) been a NENA officer
33. Have you ever been to an APCO convention
34. Have you ever been to a NENA convention
Does your supervisor require you to…mark all that apply
1. Attend a daily shift briefing prior to taking a position
2. Check your email at least once a day
3. Voice concerns via email
4. Voice concerns via paper memo
5. Respond to complaints via email
6. Respond to complaints via memo
7. Pass on important information to you on a regular basis
8. Have regular meetings with the dispatch staff to keep in touch with concerns and to let you all know what’s going on with management
9. Tell his or her what’s going on because they don’t have a clue what life on the floor is really like
10. To fill out your annual evaluations before they do
11. Not allow you to attend any training once your probation is completed unless it is mandatory
As a supervisor…mark all that apply
1. Did you work for your agency as a line dispatcher prior to being promoted
2. Work on the floor as a call-taker if staffing is short-handed
3. Work on a radio channel is the staffing is short-handed
4. Write employee annual evaluations
5. Attend department administration meetings
6. Write Communications Center policies and procedures
7. Do dispatch scheduling
8. Approve time-off requests
9. Be the official Terminal Agency Coordinator (TAC)
10. Be an Assistant Terminal Agency Coordinator (ATAC)
11. Coordinate dispatcher training or run the dispatcher training academy
12. Teach the communications portion of the in-house law enforcement, EMS, or firefighter FTO program
13. Investigate complaints
14. Recommend discipline
15. Discipline employees
16. Terminate employees
17. Participate in oral boards
18. Recommend hiring of potential employees
19. Attend conventions on the company’s expense account
20. Manage the CAD system
21. Manage other department in-house computer systems
If you are still working as a dispatcher, what do you like best as your job?
1. The Variable hours
2. The pay and benefits
3. The chance to save a life (EMD)
4. Never the same calls from day-to-day
5. Being part of a team
If you are still employed as a dispatcher, what do you dislike the most about your job?
1. 24/7 makes me miss out on a lot of family events
2. Having to put up with a lot a verbal abuse from citizen callers
3. Working chronically understaffed in dispatch
4. The lack of respect and acknowledgement from other Public Safety personnel
5. Not being considered a true First Responder
When it comes to dispatcher training or certification, are you…mark all that apply
1. Required to have dispatcher training by your State
2. Required to have dispatcher training by your County
3. Required to have any any certification for law enforcement dispatching by your State’s POST or via mandated State regulation
4. If the answer is yes to question 4, how many hours ____
5. If you provide EMD, how many initial training hours do you obtain and how many recertification hours must you take? Initial training ____ recertification hours____
6. For EMD, if you are required to obtain continuing education (CE) units, how many ____
Do you get pay raises?
1. Yes, annual cost of living (COLA) only
2. Yes, per union contract
3. Maybe, raises are merit based
4. Maybe, raise are merit based BUT – all raises are frozen due to budget problems until further notice
Do you belong to a union
1. Yes, I am part of a closed (mandatory) shop
2. No, I live in an at will state
3. I can if I chose to belong (a voluntary, or open shop)
We all need to think about retirement, how is your retirement handled by your agency?
1. They cover 100% of my retirement savings (PERS)
2. We split costs on a percentage to a retirement system (PERS/402k/IRA)
3. I pay 100% to a government system (PERS/401k/IRA)
4. I pay 100% to an IRA or 401k
Health benefits are important. How does your agency dole out benefits for you and your family?
1. They cover 100% for me and my family
2. They cover me and my spouse, but I pay for the kids
3. They cover me, but I pay for the spouse and kids
4. If I want coverage I pay, for all of us
What is your job satisfaction?
1. Can’t be better. I love my job! 100%
2. There’s a few things Id change, but over not bad. 75%
3. It pays the bills. If I could find something else I’d switch in a heartbeat. 50%
4. I dread coming to work. 25%
5. For those pessimists…I hate my life and work sucks 0.01%
What type of shifts does your dispatch center work?
3. 3/12 plus 1 eight
4. 24 hours (a Kelly schedule)
What is the population of your agency’s jurisdiction?
1. Less than 5,000
2. 5,001 to 10,000
3. 10,001 to 50,000
4. 50,001 to 100,000
5. 100,001 to 500,000
6. 500,001 +
How many field personnel does your agency handle?
How many dispatchers does your agency have?
How many dispatch supervisors does your agency have?
What's on your mind? Any words of wisdom?As Bill O'Reilly says, keep it pithy.