How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Rhode Island

As of 2013, Rhode Island is one of just two states that provide enhanced 911 services statewide. It was also the first state to do so. According to the State of Rhode Island E-9-1-1 Uniform Emergency Telephone System 2012 Call Volume Report, in 2012 533,768 incoming calls to 911 dispatchers were logged Rhode Island. The majority of these calls originated from wireless numbers.

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Rhode Island’s Enhanced 911 System lets 911 dispatchers see a caller’s address and telephone number if they are calling from a landline. The system is not yet available in Rhode Island for wireless calls to 911, though it is in development.

There is one chief employer of 911 dispatchers in Rhode Island. Because of the state’s size, all calls in the state are routed through the E 9-1-1 Uniform Emergency Telephone System – Public Safety Complex, Headquarters in North Scituate. Regardless of the municipality from which the call is made – Providence, Pawtucket, Cranston or Warwick – all 911 calls are routed to the headquarters in North Scituate.

Cities may employ their own Fire Dispatchers, who handle calls relating strictly to fire emergencies in the community. Employers of these types of dispatchers include:

  • City of Cranston Fire Department Communication Center
  • City of Providence Fire Department
  • Tiverton Fire Department
  • Warwick Fire Department
  • Middletown Fire Department


Meeting the Requirements for 911 Dispatcher Jobs in Rhode Island

The minimum educational requirement for 911 dispatchers in Rhode Island is to hold a high school diploma. Additional education in a related field is preferable, however, and may make it easier to perform the duties of the job. Examples of helpful degrees and courses in Rhode Island include:

  • Computer Science
  • Telecommunications
  • Criminal Justice
  • Emergency Management
  • Homeland Security
  • Public Safety

Other requirements that must be met by 911 dispatchers in Rhode Island include:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a Rhode Island resident
  • Be a U.S.  citizen
  • May be required to have one to two years of call dispatch experience (depending upon the employer)
  • Possess accurate and fast typing skills
  • Knowledge of computers and software programs used by dispatchers
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New-Hire Training Requirements in Rhode Island

Most 911 dispatcher employers in Rhode Island will require new dispatchers to undergo EMD, EFD or EPD certification (Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Emergency Fire Dispatcher or Emergency Police Dispatcher). These certifications are bestowed by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). Each certification course lasts for a few days and culminates in a certification examination. Priority Dispatch administers the courses and exams. These may be offered by the employing agency. Every two years, all EMDs, EFDs and EPDs must complete24 hours of Continuing Dispatch Education (CDE) to maintain certification.

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