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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Penobscot County, Maine

This is a step-by-step guide on how to join the highly trained professionals of the Penobscot Regional Communications Center and become a 911 dispatcher in Penobscot County:

Obtain the Necessary Education
Complete the Application Process in Penobscot County
Take Part in a Field Training Program and Obtain Certifications

Since poor visibility of house numbers can hamper the ability of medical or law enforcement personnel to respond in case of emergencies, Penobscot county developed a program in 2005 to provide special signs to homeowners who request them.

Inmates at the County Jail make special reflective signs that meet 911 standards that can be placed on a house or on a steel stake at the end of a driveway.  These 6” x 8” signs are highly visible at night.

Residents of Penobscot County can obtain these signs through their towns or through the sheriff’s office.  A partnership of organizations, including law enforcement, social service, and senior citizen groups developed the program.  If citizens do not know how to install these signs, they can get assistance from a fire fighter or a public safety official.

911 calls in Penobscot and Aroostook Counties are routed through the Penobscot Regional Communications Center (PRCC) that handles approximately 65,700 such calls a year from residents of Bangor, Burlington, Charleston, Exeter and dozens of other small towns.  Twenty 911 dispatchers work with three senior operators to either directly dispatch emergency calls or route them to the appropriate public or private safety agency.

 


 

Step 1.  Obtain the Necessary Education

While 911 dispatcher positions generally do not require a college degree, your chances of being chosen for such a position are greater if you have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field that will provide training applicable to dispatching emergency calls.

Programs that can help prepare you for a 911 dispatcher position include the following:

  • Communications
  • Police science
  • Criminal justice
  • Emergency management

You can obtain an education in these areas of study from schools within Maine or from online institutions that offer a greater flexibility of learning.

 


 

Step 2.  Complete the Application Process in Penobscot County

You can apply to be a 911 dispatcher in Penobscot County when a communications operator position is advertised on the county’s website.  The application process is rigorous and includes the following steps:

  • Oral interview
  • Criminal background check
  • Polygraph test.

 


 

Step 3.  Take Part in a Field Training Program and Obtain Certification

When you have been chosen to be a communications operator for the PRCC, you will take part in a three to six month Field Training Operator Program.  You will also have to obtain the following certifications:

  • Terminal Operator
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch
  • E9-1-1 Vest Training

You will also need to become licensed for Maine Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to meet the standards set by the state.  This involves the following steps:

  • Completing a course approved by the Maine Emergency Medical Services Board
  • Passing two exams:

    • One on practical skills
    • Another on cognitive abilities
    • Applying for your license

Once you are working as a 911 dispatcher, you will have to renew your licenses every two years.  This requires at least 24 hours of specialized training each year.

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