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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Grand Forks County,
North Dakota

The Grand Forks Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Regional Dispatch serves Grand Forks County, which includes a number of cities and towns, including the City of Grand Forks. In 2012, the Regional Dispatch handled 75,913 emergency calls, an increase from 67,517 in 2011 and 64,447 in 2010. On average, 911 dispatchers in Grand Forks County handle about 6,326 calls each month.

The Grand Forks Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Regional Dispatch, commonly referred to simply as the 911 center, serves 3 city police departments, 1 sheriff’s department, the University of North Dakota Police Department, 1 city and 15 volunteer fire departments, 3 rural EMS providers, and an ambulance service.

The Grand Forks PSAP, which serves an area of 1,436 square miles and nearly 67,000 people, consists of 1 director, 5 supervisors/team leaders, and 11 dispatchers.

If you want to become a 911 operator in Grand Forks County, you must be prepared to complete a number of steps:

Prepare for Employment in Grand Forks County
Apply for Employment and Complete the Screening Process
Complete the Pre-Employment Process and Dispatcher Training

 


 

Step 1. Prepare for Employment in Grand Forks County

Before pursuing a 911 dispatcher job with the Grand Forks PSAP, you must be at least 18 years old, and you must possess a high school diploma or GED to qualify for employment.

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You may also want to pursue a college degree program in a field closely related to emergency communications/dispatching, as it may better prepare you for advancement within the profession. Some of the most common associate or bachelor’s degree programs pursued by 911 dispatchers include:

  • Public Safety
  • Emergency Management
  • Homeland Security
  • Communications
  • Criminal Justice

For example, an associate’s degree in public safety often covers the following areas of study, all of which play an important role in the field of emergency communications:

  • Principles of Public Safety
  • Community Service Principles
  • Incident Management
  • Homeland Defense

 


 

Step 2. Apply for Employment and Complete the Screening Process

Before applying for a job with the Grand Forks Public Safety Answering Point Regional Dispatch, you must complete a City of Grand Forks job application and mail it or return it in person to the Human Resources Department at:

City Hall
255 North 4th Street
P.O. Box 5200
Grand Forks, ND 58206-5200

The Grand Forks PSAP is assisted by the Grand Forks Human Resources Department to collect applications for 911 operators and assist in the interview process.

You must also pass a 40 wpm typing test (which can be taken at a job service center, free of charge), a background check, and an Ergometrics test to qualify as a candidate for a 911 dispatcher job in Grand Forks County.

The Ergometrics testing system, which is used to provide initial screening for 911 operator candidates, includes a 3-hour video-based exam that is designed to simulate call-taking and dispatching scenarios. It assesses candidates in the following areas:

  • Attention to detail
  • Dealing with difficult and stressful situations
  • Listening and communications skills
  • Multi-tasking
  • Prioritization
  • Problem solving
  • Recording accuracy

 


 

Step 3. Complete the Pre-Employment Process and Dispatcher Training

Only those candidates who successfully pass a background check, the Ergometrics pre-screening test, and the typing test are eligible to interview for a 911 dispatcher job. Once you have interviewed with the Grand Forks PSAP, you will be placed on an eligibility list of candidates.

Conditional job offers are extended to those individuals who successfully complete a full background investigation, a physical exam, and a drug screen.

Although training requirements for 911 operators hired by the Grand Forks PSAP are not clearly indicated, it is likely that, in addition to extensive, on-the-job training, new 911 dispatchers may need to complete a basic training course in emergency response through the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) as a Public Safety Telecommunicator (PST).

The Public Safety Telecommunicator (PST) certification course includes a number of training modules:

  • Interpersonal Communications
  • Stress Management
  • Telematics
  • Liability Issues
  • NIMS Incident Command System
  • Radio Technology
  • Telephone Communication Techniques
  • Call Classification
  • Computer-Aided Dispatch and Related Technologies
  • Telephony Traditional and Emerging Technology

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