Oklahoma’s Statewide 911 Advisory Board is responsible for overseeing the development and operations of the 911 emergency systems within the State of Oklahoma. The purpose and goals of the Board include:
- Securing resources for the creation, operation and expansion of local Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs)
- Securing and directing public funds and grants
- Creating and maintaining a best practices database for PSAPs
- Encouraging information sharing among PSAPs
- Expanding enhanced 911 service to every telephone user in the state
- Encouraging equipment and technology sharing among small jurisdictions
- Assisting PSAPs in implementing wireless technology
- Developing training program standards for 911 dispatchers
The largest PSAPs in the state include:
- Tulsa Public Safety Communications 911 Center
- Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office – Communications Division (Oklahoma City)
- Comanche County E-911 Dispatch Center (Lawton)
Preparing for a Career as a 911 Dispatcher in Oklahoma
Individuals who have set their sights on 911 dispatcher jobs in Oklahoma must first ensure they meet the minimum requirements for employment, which includes being a United States citizen and having experience answering complaints and providing customer service.
Other desirable qualities of 911 dispatchers (often called communications officers in Oklahoma) include:
- Effective oral communication and interpersonal skills
- Ability to remain calm in highly stressful situations
- Ability to follow oral and written instructions
- Ability to make critical and expedient decisions
- Ability to operate a computer terminal
- Ability to extract information from irate or irrational individuals
Before candidates can be hired as 911 operators, they must be able to pass a data entry skills assessment, and selected candidates must be able to pass a psychological test, polygraph, an extensive background investigation, and a drug screen.
Although not a requirement of 911 dispatcher jobs in Oklahoma, many individuals interested in pursuing careers as 911 dispatchers often complete a two- or four-year college program in one of the following fields:
- Public Safety
- Emergency Management
- Homeland Security
- Computer Science
A college program is often quite helpful for not only better handling the demands of a job in dispatching, but also for pursuing advancement to supervisory positions in the profession.
Oklahoma 911 Dispatcher Training and Certification Requirements
All 911 operators in Oklahoma must obtain and maintain these certifications:
- Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
- Emergency Medical Dispatch
- Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications Terminal Operator
An individual may obtain certification as a 911 operator by successfully completing a basic course of training conducted by the State Board of Education. This program should include:
- At least 40 hours of instruction or training
- Instructional or training units in:
- The role of the emergency service telecommunicator
- Effective communication skills
- Emergency service telecommunicator liability
- Telephone techniques
- Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Handling hysterical and suicidal callers
- Law enforcement technology
- Fire service terminology
- Emergency medical service technology
- Radio broadcast techniques
- Disaster planning
- Police officers survival, fire or emergency medical service scene safety, or a combination of the two
911 dispatchers must complete at least 8 hours of continuing education coursework to maintain their certification as an emergency service telecommunicator.
The basic course of emergency service telecommunicator training is offered about 8 times each year through a number of vocational education centers throughout the state.
911 dispatchers in Oklahoma may further show their commitment to their profession by joining a professional association, such as the Oklahoma Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials.
APCO International is a professional organization for individuals who work in emergency communications. As such, it provides technical assistance, advocacy, professional development, and outreach to 911 dispatchers.