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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Arizona

Arizona has a crime rate that is higher than the national average – especially when it comes to violent crime and property crime such as murder, rape, burglary and theft. This lands Arizona at number 38 on the country’s crime index. Crime problems in Arizona also include a high number of kidnappings, drug smuggling, and human trafficking.  This, combined with car accidents, and other kinds of injury causing accidents, is why Arizona emergency response agencies are always on the lookout for competent 9-1-1 dispatchers.

Proper training and development is essential for anyone looking to enter the field of emergency dispatch.  Dispatchers are expected to be composed and professional at all times. An example of a situation in which a dispatcher failed to maintain composure occurred in late 2013 when an Arizona-based 9-1-1 operator was caught on tape laughing while asking a man if his girlfriend was still on fire.

Preparing for a Career in Arizona’s Emergency Dispatch Centers

Arizona 9-1-1 operators face a variety of challenges as it relates to performing the duties of their jobs. Some of these challenges include:

  • Having extensive knowledge of the landmarks and streets in which they work.
  • Being able to take control of a frightening situation and gain the trust and cooperation of the caller.
  • Thinking fast and making correct decisions which comply with department regulations
  • Being able to multitask in very extreme life-or-death situations

One of the best ways a potential applicant can prepare for this exciting and demanding career is to graduate from a college or university with a degree in an area of study that covers critical areas of the job. In Arizona, training is available through relevant degree programs in such areas as:

  • Communications
  • Computer Systems
  • Psychology
  • Criminology

In addition to these degree programs courses in crisis management, leadership, and effective decision-making can have a real impact on both job prospects and job performance.

Arizona’s Top Employers of Emergency Dispatchers

There are many municipalities in the state of Arizona that have a need for 9-1-1 operators from time to time. Some of these areas include:

  • Phoenix – This is Arizona’s largest city. 9-1-1 dispatchers in this city can expect a large volume of calls ranging from violent incidences, to wildfires, to automobile accidents.
  • Tucson – Tucson is Arizona’s second largest city with about 520,000 residents. This is a mid-sized city which rests in the lower part of the state.
  • Mesa – Mesa is another mid-sized city in Arizona, with a population of about 440,000. Mesa is the 3rd largest city in the state.

It is important to keep in mind that each individual jurisdiction is allowed to set their own job requirements for the 9-1-1 operators they hire. As an example, these are the requirements for an emergency dispatcher in the Phoenix area. These requirements are similar to those found in other jurisdictions, though certain details may differ.

Phoenix Emergency Dispatcher – Starting Salary $38,771

Requirements (in part):

  • Be able to work evenings, nights, holidays, weekends
  • Pass Phoenix Fire Department Emergency Medical Dispatch program within 6 months of hire
  • Possess CPR certification at time of hire
  • Learn street locations and directions.

Industry Organizations

One of the important aspects to being a 9-1-1 dispatch operator in the state of Arizona is to continue to remain up to date about what is happening in the industry, including new communications protocols and procedures. It is a good idea to become familiar with emergency communications on all levels, from local to international. Here is a valuable list of NENA organizations.

  • The AZ-APCO. This organization’s mission is to ensure that the Arizona emergency communications community is well prepared to do their vital job functions. They support the standardization and implementation of technology.
  • The National Emergency Number Association. A national group which does work similar to the AZ-APCO, but on the level of the United States as a whole. They are interested in supporting emergency communications workers, and furthering the development of the field.
  • The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. This group is also interested in seeing the standardization of emergency communications, only they operate on an international level.

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