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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Indiana

According to the state’s Department of Workforce Development, 911 dispatcher jobs in Indiana are projected to grow by 11 percent by the year 2020. Their recent report indicates there will be more openings for these positions and as the state’s population is projected to increase at a faster rate, demand for 911 dispatcher jobs will continue to be high. Last year there were 2,430 employees in this field statewide, who received months of preparatory training to be qualified to answer and dispatch calls for emergency services.

Nearly one-third of Indiana’s emergency operators work with the following agencies:

  • Indianapolis Metropolitan Communications Agency is the primary dispatch center in the city, in an area that responds to three million calls per year and employs 580 emergency dispatchers
  • Fort Wayne-Allen County City-County 911 Dispatch Center, with 120 emergency operators working in the area
  • Evansville City/Vanderburgh County Joint Department of Central Dispatch, with 50 emergency operators working in the region
  • South Bend Police Department Communication Center, with 100 dispatchers working in the region

Becoming a 911 Operator in Indiana

In addition to 911 dispatcher training, candidates can demonstrate a heightened level of commitment to their field with a degree in any of the following, which will also improve future promotional opportunities:

  • Communications: helping candidates know the different styles, techniques, and strategies associated with talking to callers
  • Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement: candidates will be familiar with jurisdictional, strategic, and additional helpful resources when dispatching to potential crime scenes
  • Emergency Management: prepares dispatchers for natural and man-made disasters or major events, familiarizing them with the county, state, and federal chain of command
  • Psychology: helps emergency operators with additional evaluative tools when speaking with people over the phone

The Indiana Department of Public Safety recently used $10 million from bonds and a police grant to upgrade to a state-of-the-art computer-aided dispatch system that includes a social media function. Being well-versed in computers is just one of the aspects of the 911 dispatcher job description; candidates must also be able to remain calm in highly stressful situations and complete months of training before they begin answering calls. As prospective dispatchers learn more about how to become a 911 operator in Indiana, it will become apparent these jobs are highly competitive. Going into a job interview with education or certification in any of the following will help to strengthen a candidate’s credentials for hire:

  • 911 Telecommunications Certification
  • Association of Public-Safety Communications (APCO) Certification
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification
  • Experience or knowledge about:

    • National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
    • Indiana Data and Communications System (IDACS)
    • Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Indiana Dispatcher Pieces Together Clues to Find Location of Caller

In addition to the anticipated stressful challenge that comes with taking calls from people in emergency situations, 911 operators must also meet unexpected challenges that arise. In one recent example of this, a young Kokomo boy recently called the emergency number when his mother collapsed and apparently began having a seizure. The problem was that the eight-year-old boy could not remember his address, which had also been removed from the front porch. Since he was calling on a cell phone, dispatchers could only identify the neighborhood the call was coming from. However 911 operator training in Indiana covers just such a scenario, and within 10 minutes units were able to locate the house after the boy provided a physical description and notified the dispatcher when he saw emergency units drive by.

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