The job of a 911 dispatcher is among the most challenging occupations for several reasons, not the least of which is the pressure for dispatchers to perform their jobs efficiently and accurately. They have the responsibility of taking and relaying information, the accuracy of which is often a matter of life and death, and the pressure and stress involved can sometimes lead to mistakes that can be extremely costly.
Dispatchers in Dayton, Ohio, however, have begun using an automated system for emergency dispatch that the city is hoping will both free up valuable resources and cut down response times.
The system, which went live this past week, allows dispatchers to enter information into a specific program that then automatically sends an alert to area first responders by way of both radio frequencies and the internet.
Though the system is officially still in a testing phase, it is operating around the clock for several districts around Dayton with the biggest advantage being that dispatchers can now remain on the line with a caller to be able to provide better service while the system actually does the bulk of the logistical work of relaying information to the appropriate authorities.
While the technology is relatively new, Dayton is not the first city to implement the system. Both Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis have been using the same system for several months and both have seen success. Their dispatchers claim to be experiencing far less stress and say that the system allows them to focus more on the needs of the caller and less on making sure information is relayed accurately.
Despite the benefits of the system, it is not intended to replace human dispatchers. Officials say that the job of a 911 dispatcher is such that there is always a need for human interaction as part of the service and that no electronic system, regardless of its level of efficiency, can provide that.