Oregon’s 911 Program was established in 1981 with the primary goal of supporting the continual, uninterrupted operation of the state’s enhanced 911 System through effective coordination and management of the many emergency dispatch centers located throughout the state. The 911 Program provides consultation and support for all of the individual emergency dispatch centers, known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), located within local government agencies and law enforcement departments statewide.
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The many primary and secondary Public Safety Answering Points that make up Oregon’s 911 network serve the state’s 3.6 million residents by providing immediate access to police, fire and emergency medical services. Each PSAP is capable of delivering data through a statewide network, and throughout the nation using the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) and Law Enforcement Data Systems (LEDS).
The largest PSAPs in Oregon include:
- Bureau of Emergency Communications (Multnomah County and Portland)
- Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency (Hillsboro)
- Clackamas County Communications (Oregon City)
- Central Lane Communications (Lane County and Eugene)
Preparing for a Career as a 911 Dispatcher in Oregon
Aspiring 911 dispatchers may elect to complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in such fields as communications, public safety, emergency management, or homeland security.
These programs are often beneficial for helping 911 dispatchers perform their jobs, excel during in-serve training, and enjoy more professional opportunities. For example, a program in public safety would be relevant since it would cover the following areas of study:
- Technology in contemporary society
- Technological transformations
- Media and society
- Public safety administration
- Contemporary public safety practices
Individuals interested in 911 dispatcher jobs (also referred to as emergency communication dispatchers) in Oregon must meet certain minimum requirements for employment. Different PSAPs throughout the state often have different requirements in place when it comes to the qualifications applicants must meet to become 911 dispatchers, and the training that newly hired dispatchers are required to undergo. For this reason, it is very important that job candidates review the requirements in place for the specific PSAP they are interested in working for (Specific job requirements and training standards for some of Oregon’s largest PSAPs can be found in the links on the left).
Basic requirements for emergency communication dispatcher jobs common of all PSAPs throughout Oregeon include being at least 18 years old and possessing a high school diploma or the equivalent.
In some cases, the application process for becoming a 911 operator includes an initial typing test, which requires applicants to demonstrate a typing speed of at least 45 wpm. Candidates who pass the typing test and meet the minimum requirements for employment will be placed on a ranked eligible list.
All candidates placed on the eligible list are then invited to complete a:
- Pass/Fail CritiCall Test
- Pass/Fail Oral Interview
- Pass/Fail Background Investigation
In PSAPs with this type of testing structure in place, a conditional offer of employment is dependent on the results of the background investigation, a drug screening, a psychological assessment, and a vision and hearing test.
Training Requirements for Oregon’s 911 Dispatchers
All new 911 dispatchers in Oregon must attend a two-week Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training (DPSST) academy in Salem, as well as a 10-week, in-house academy, where new trainees learn about answering and processing emergency calls and dispatching police, fire and EMT responders.
After the completion of new hire training, new 911 operators must complete an additional 18 months of on-the-job training in call taking and dispatch. All new trainees are assigned a coach, and trainees often work with several coaches throughout their training program. During this time, it is common for new hires to receive daily performance reviews and two-week supervisor reviews.