How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The 911 Call Center in Cedar Rapids handles police, fire, and emergency medical calls—both for emergencies and other matters.

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In 2011, Cedar Rapids based dispatchers were trained to handle emergency medical calls.  Previously, dispatchers would put callers on hold to transfer them to ambulance dispatch.  This change in procedure results in seconds being shaved off of each call, which has been attributed to saving lives in several instances.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a 911 dispatcher in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:

Meet Education and Experience Requirements in Cedar Rapids
Complete the Cedar Rapids Application Process
Undergo On-the-Job Training and Certification



Step 1. Meet Education and Experience Requirements in Cedar Rapids

The City of Cedar Rapids prefers that you have at least two years experience with dispatching, or experience in closely related jobs in addition to a background in customer service.

The Human Resources department will also accept an equivalent amount of education and training.  One way to gain this type of field exposure is to obtain a college degree in a field relevant to emergency dispatch, such as:

  • Criminal justice
  • Police science
  • Communications

You can obtain such a degree from online schools or from colleges located in Iowa.



Step 2.  Complete the Cedar Rapids Application Process

You will need to complete an application when a Public Safety Telecommunicator 1 position is posted.  You can sign up to be notified as positions become available.

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Once you have been chosen as a potential candidate, you will be tested to determine if you would make a good 911 dispatcher.  You will need to be able type 40 words per minute, and you will have to pass a dispatcher aptitude test.

After you have passed these tests and been chosen for the position, you will be screened for illegal drugs and undergo a medical exam and background check.



Step 3.  Undergo On-the-Job Training and Certification

Once you have been hired to be a 911 dispatcher, you will be thoroughly trained in how to handle emergency calls, including how to operate the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system.

You will be trained to perform the following:

  • Enter data
  • Navigate on the screen
  • Retrieve information promptly

You will also be trained in using the 800 MHz radio system that is being expanded to cover all of Linn County.

During your trial period, you will have to obtain the following types of certifications:

  • CPR
  • NCIC (National Crime Information Center)

Once you have finished your training, your trial period, and obtained NCIC certification, you may be considered for a promotion to a public safety telecommunicator II position.

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