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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Ohio

The Ohio 911 Council and Advisory Board, under the Public Utility Commission of Ohio, consists of 7 members, including the Ohio 911 coordinator, who are responsible for overseeing Ohio’s Enhanced Emergency 911 Service. The 911 systems in Ohio are implemented on a county-by-county basis, with the Council approving each county’s plan for establishing an enhanced 911 system.

From Toledo to Dayton and beyond, Ohio’s enhanced 911 systems in Ohio now include land lines, wireless phones, and Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP), thereby providing enhanced 911 services throughout the state.

The largest 911 systems in Ohio include:

Education and Training to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Ohio

Many seeking a career in this field seek a two- or four-year college program as to prepare themselves for future professional advancement in dispatching.

Because designated emergency dispatching college programs in the United States do not exist, many individuals seek related college associate or bachelor’s programs that serve as a solid framework for a career in emergency dispatching, such as:

  • Public Safety
  • Communications
  • Homeland Security
  • Emergency Management

For example, a college program in emergency management administration likely covers the following topics:

  • Principles of Emergency Services
  • Emergency Services Management and Administration
  • Legal Aspects of Emergency Services
  • Emergency and Disaster Preparedness
  • Master Planning for Public Emergency Management
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Legal Aspects of Emergency Services
  • Principles of Management
  • Emergency Services Leadership

Individuals who want to learn how to become a 911 dispatcher in Ohio must first meet the minimum requirements of the state. Candidates must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Be able to type 35 wpm with few errors

Individuals must have proficiency in English usage, spelling, grammar, vocabulary and punctuation, and they must have strong problem-solving skills.

Further, candidates for 911 operator jobs in Ohio must possess prior dispatching experience, with emergency dispatching preferred, or at least two years of experience in a public service environment, which may including working as a customer service representative, a sales person, a receptionist, etc.

Individuals who have successfully completed a certified emergency communication course (through an association such as the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials) do not need to meet the experience requirements.

Candidates chosen for positions as 911 operators in Ohio must be prepared to undergo an extensive background check, a physical and hearing exam, and a drug screen.

LEADS Certification in Ohio

New hires must be able to obtain certification as a Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) operator within 6 months of employment. LEADS is a state-regulated computer terminal that provides information to law enforcement and emergency personnel regarding the 911 emergency.

Coursework in a LEADS certification program is focused on:

  • Inquiries/response interpretation
  • Criminal history inquiries
  • Hot file hit interpretation
  • LEADS policy and procedures
  • Security awareness and training

The Ohio Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) is an excellent resource for 911 dispatchers in Ohio, as members have access to a number of networking and professional opportunities through the group’s monthly meetings, job listings, and training courses.

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