Anchorage fire 9-1-1 dispatch agents dispatch fire and EMS and are referred to as fire dispatchers. They are hired by the Anchorage Fire Department Communications Center, and are all members of the International Association of Fire Fighters – Local 1264 Union (IAFF).
Police 9-1-1 dispatch operators go by the title communications clerks and work in the Anchorage Police Department’s Communications Center.
Anchorage is more dangerous than the average U.S. city in many categories of crime. These kinds of dangers have generated a need for skilled emergency response professionals, and include:
- Anchorage has a higher per capita rate of violence than the average for the U.S.
- As of November 2013 there were at least 881 registered sex offenders living in Anchorage
- Anchorage has 1 registered sex offender for every 325 residents
- Anchorage’s difficult climate makes accidents more frequent and more deadly
- Anchorage has a high rate of DUI. One weekend in late 2013 saw 34 people arrested for the offense.
In order to become a fire dispatcher or communications clerk in Anchorage you should follow these steps:
|Meet Education and Job Skill Requirements|
|Apply for a Position in Anchorage and Get Certified|
|On-the-Job Training and Skills|
|Advance in Your Career|
|Join NENA and Continue Skill Development|
Step 1. Meet Education and Job Skill Requirements
The minimum required education to become an emergency dispatcher in Anchorage is a high school diploma or GED. However obtaining an associate’s degree from an Anchorage area college or university can be very beneficial. Having a degree in any field related to emergency response could significantly improve your chances of being hired as a 9-1-1 agent in Anchorage. Also, obtaining such a degree can help you prepare for the rigors and challenges you will be faced with on the job.
Some of the relevant degree programs include:
- Pre-law. This degree program will give you a firm base in local and state law, and help you better guide callers in a way that is consistent with the law.
- Nursing. Many callers will have an immediate need for medical assistance, or will otherwise need to provide assistance to people on the scene. A degree in nursing will help you to talk the callers through providing this important assistance to themselves or others.
- Public Safety. A degree in public safety will give you all the training you need in order to deal with public safety concerns, including cases where there may be mass casualties.
Fire Dispatchers in Anchorage are paid a salary of $32.29 to $33.92 per hour, while communication’s clerks are paid $18.57 – $26.70 hourly. Some of the qualifications you will need in order to become an Anchorage Fire Dispatcher include:
- 3 years’ experience in a position which requires customer contact
- 3 years’ experience in clerical work
- Type at 35 words per minute
- Net data entry speed of 140 keystrokes per minute
The requisites for the communications clerk position are similar.
Note: 1 year of relevant customer service work could be used to substitute for the 3 years’ experience.
Step 2. Apply for a Position in Anchorage and Get Certified
In order to apply for 911 dispatcher jobs in Anchorage, go to the website for the municipality here.
Additionally, you should get your certifications as soon as possible. You will need to become certified in all of the following areas within 3 months of hire:
- Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Certification
- Emergency Fire Dispatcher (EFD) Certification
- American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR or Red Cross Professional Rescuer CPR Certification
Step 3. On-the-Job Training and Skills
When you begin an emergency dispatcher in Anchorage you will need to have certain skills and qualities from the first day. Many of these will continue to develop as you gain experience. These skills and qualities include:
- Ability to understand and strictly follow instructions and protocols
- Ability to work in a high demand and high stress environment
- Basic knowledge of computer use
- Ability to multitask
- Ability to work any shift (24/7 including weekends and holidays)
You will also be trained in many areas of the job. You will develop skills such as:
- How to prioritize calls
- How to determine appropriate level of response
- How to maintain relevant records –including records of radio transmissions
- How to utilize emergency medical dispatch protocols
- How to utilize emergency fire dispatch protocols
Step 4. Advance in Your Career
Once you have satisfactorily performed your job functions as a Fire Dispatcher, you may wish to apply for a promotion to a Fire Dispatch Lead. This position has a pay range of $35.61 to $37.39. Its job responsibilities include:
- Working as a fire dispatcher
- Planning and monitoring schedules
- Compiling information and preparing reports
- Monitoring and reviewing performance of subordinates
- Prescribing corrective action when needed
Communications clerks also have a career path, which includes communications clerk II and III. The position has a top pay of $38.21 per hour for communications clerk III.
Step 5. Join NENA
You can also become part of the national network of emergency communications professionals by joining the National Emergency Number Association. This group is responsible for much of the groundbreaking work that has allowed 9-1-1 to become standardized across the states, and has brought 9-1-1 emergency access to cell phones and VoIP phones.