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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Massachusetts

In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Emergency Services awarded Massachusetts with a grant of more than one million dollars. This grant is intended to help the state upgrade its 911 emergency network to an IP (Internet Protocol) system. It will distribute updated map information loaded onto 911 customer equipment at 911 dispatch centers across Massachusetts, as well as help to collect 911 call detail records to back up 911 call data.

Additionally, the grant will help to maintain all 911 communications equipment used at public safety answering points (PSAPs) and 911 dispatch centers across the state. The grant is expected to increase the need for more properly educated and well-trained 911 dispatchers in Massachusetts.

Some of the chief employers of 911 dispatchers in Massachusetts include:

  • Massachusetts State 911 Department in Taunton
  • Townsend Police/Communications Department in Townsend
  • Hopkinton Police Department in Hopkinton
  • Massachusetts State Police in Framingham
  • Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department in Falmouth
  • Boston Fire Department in Boston
  • Boston Police Department in Boston
  • Cambridge Emergency Communications in Cambridge
  • Lowell Police Department in Lowell
  • Springfield Fire Department in Springfield
  • Springfield Police Department in Springfield
  • Worcester Department of Communications in Worcester

Education and Training for 911 Dispatchers in Massachusetts

Although a high school diploma is usually the only educational requirement listed on job postings for 911 dispatchers in Massachusetts, having additional education beyond the secondary school level will benefit those wishing to get into this field. College programs and courses such as these in Massachusetts are the most beneficial to would-be 911 dispatchers:

    • Certificate in Public Safety Communications, with courses such as:
      • Call Processing
      • Radio Communications
      • Human Behavior
      • Fire and Emergency Medical Communications

  • Associate of Applied Science in Public Safety Telecommunications, with courses like:
    • Introduction to Crisis Intervention
    • Management Principles in Public Safety Communications
    • Location Identification
    • Technical Writing for Public Safety Communicators

Basic New-Hire Training Requirements

911 dispatcher employers in Massachusetts commonly require that new hires go through a mandatory training program, which may include:

  • 40 hours of Basic Public Safety Telecommunicator Course and Certification (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials -APCO or equivalent)
  • 12 hours of Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) LEAPS Full Access Certification
  • 24 hours of Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) certification
  • 4 hours of Suicide Prevention Training
  • 8 hours of CPR Certification
  • 8 hours of Basic Criminal Law for Telecommunicators

Emergency dispatch training in Massachusetts is usually provided by law enforcement agencies statewide. In 2013, training sponsors and locations included the Peabody Police Department, the Attleboro Police Department (Taunton Holiday Inn), Groton Police, Swansea Police, Dartmouth Police, Littleton Police and Grafton Police.

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