Monthly Job Focus: The Dispatcher
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Nine times out of ten, the 9-1-1 dispatcher is the first person you will talk to in an emergency situation. You may think that dispatching is easy because dispatchers just sit at a desk and answer calls all day, but it is a difficult job and can sometimes be very traumatizing to the people who do it. They answer both emergency and non-emergency calls for various incidents, including structure fires, motor vehicle accidents, emergency medical conditions, and law enforcement services. In order to be qualified to be a dispatcher, you must have 112 hours of classroom training and 24 hours of continuing education each year. Dispatchers use a radio system to dispatch responders to the scene. Another useful resource that has aided in shortening response times is a convenient app called NowForce. NowForce is tied in with the CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) system and its purpose is to dispatch first responders sometimes before the dispatcher can contact them on the radio.
The Greenbrier County 9-1-1 center was established by the Greenbrier County Commission in 1998. Prior to 2004, dispatching in Greenbrier County involved a lot of writing and took much longer to document calls. On July 1 2004, Greenbrier County switched over to the CAD system. This system allows for dispatchers to collect information from callers much quicker, resulting in faster response times as well as making the dispatcher’s job much easier. According to Administrative Director Donna Hinkle, the 9-1-1 center typically takes 90-120 calls a day. However, on June 23, 2016 the day of the thousand-year flood, the 9-1-1 center took approximately 2,097 calls, which is well above the usual amount. Our dispatchers were a vital part in the flood relief and rescue efforts.