Few persons in the police and fire world make as many daily and important impressions as does the Public Safety Dispatcher. They are asked questions that may range in scope from simple directions to technical information on various laws. They may be required to calm a distraught person whose child is choking, attempt to stop a person from committing suicide, or request the specialized services of a doctor or minister all in the span of a few minutes. Public Safety Dispatchers must be multi-tasking and possess many technical skills. They undergo a great deal of specialized training, and must be capable of keeping their emotions under control during emergencies.
Our dispatch is currently staffed with one Public Safety Communications Manager, four Public Safety Dispatch Shift Supervisors, and nineteen Public Safety Dispatchers. Staffing levels vary depending on the time of day and activity in Communications Center, from three positions at 3:00 a.m., to five positions from 11:00 a.m. through 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. Dispatchers are required to attend a 120-hour academy and receive 24 hours of ongoing training every two years. In addition, they receive 24 hours of emergency medical dispatch training, so that they can give pre-arrival medical instructions to callers.
Public Safety Dispatchers utilize a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and are required to type a minimum of 40 words per minute. Each dispatch work station has five computer monitors that dispatchers use in the course of their job. Dispatcher duties including entering calls for service, running teletypes, answering emergency and non-emergency phone calls, obtaining the location of wireless caller by his/her latitude and longitude, and using the workstation as a radio position.
During 2005, the Escondido Communications Center began receiving wireless (cellular and voice over the Internet) calls. As this technology changes and evolves, so will the ways the public makes contact with emergency services. In 2006, Dispatch answered over 48,000 9-1-1 calls, 117,380 other calls for service, and dispatched approximately 10,500 Fire calls and 50,000 Police calls for service.
Our Public Safety Dispatchers would like to remind everyone that 9-1-1 should only be used to report medical emergencies and crimes in progress.