Question: What skills or qualifications are needed to be a 911 Dispatcher?


Answer: This is a good question because Monday starts National Telecommunicators Week, or what we refer to locally as Dispatcher Week. This is a time for us to remember the important job our Dispatchers do every day. These men and women are an integral part of our community’s law enforcement, fire, and rescue services. They are the first people we talk to during an emergency, and we depend on them to be the calm voice that walks us through the tragedies that occur in our lives. I have a great deal of respect for each of my Dispatchers here at the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office and the other dispatchers throughout the county at Richlands, Tazewell and Bluefield. I even met my beautiful wife (many anniversaries and three children ago) while she was working as a Dispatcher to put herself through Nursing School. It is a hard and often thankless job.

The skills and qualifications that can help you prepare for a career in Dispatching should include knowledge of emergency services along with good skills in typing, technology, and speaking. However, above those skills are traits that every dispatcher should have within them. Those are the ability to stay calm during extremely stressful emergencies, being able to multitask by handling serval important things at once, and being able to take control of hectic situations by becoming the voice of reason to someone who is in a panic, and they must be able to keep all the chaotic and stressful situations they work on each day confidential. The day to day emergency calls that come into a 911 Center can go from a heart wrenching call one moment, to the next call being extremely hysterical. So you need to be a person who has a great sense of humor as well as someone whose heart can handle the saddest things imaginable. Then you must have the strength at the end of your shift to leave the good and bad behind you at work and the courage to walk back in and start it all over the next day.

We see our other first responders out in the public helping each day and it is easy for us to remember the job they do, so this week let’s remember the men and women who we may not see out in the public, but are the first people we turn to and call when we need help. Thank you to all the Dispatchers we have throughout our communities. 

Please send your questions to:  Sheriff Brian Hieatt 140 School St. Suite 3, Tazewell Va. 24651 or email your questions to askthesheriff@hotmail.com.  

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