Public Safety Telecommunicators as Emergency Service Providers: The First, First Responder




Bass, Kellie

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



The job duties of the police, fire or ambulance dispatcher have grown increasingly complex and technical in nature; however, state mandated training requirements, standards, benefits and individual agency perception of the position may not appropriately address the nature of the work performed. A lack of accurate recognition of the responsibilities and duties associated with the position is negatively affecting a mission critical component of public safety. The position of dispatcher, or public safety telecommunicator, should be recognized as an emergency service provider, not a clerical position. There is increasing recognition of dispatchers as a first responder by public safety agencies despite the position holding a classification of clerical at the federal level. This recognition needs to extend to training, standards, policies and benefits at all levels of government. Extending recognition would help ensure resolution of stress related issues occurring at rates similar to other first responders. Recognition would also assist with improving training success and retention, rectification of performance deficiencies resulting in loss of life, and the enhancement of the skills of those employees who can have a profound positive impact on the provision of public safety and the safety of first responders. There is dwindling resistance in public safety in regards to the idea that dispatchers will have a significant effect on the outcome of the safety of others, but a prevailing notion that the position is clerical in nature. As long as these concepts are in opposition, the safety of first responders and the public may be diminished as some telecommunicators will be trained like clerks, rather than emergency services personnel.


Police dispatchers, police--training