How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Nashville, Tennessee

As a 911 dispatcher at the Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center you will be responsible for making life and death decisions regarding police, fire, and medical dispatch, while serving about one million people in an agency that answers 1.5 million calls for service annually. Meeting the requirements as set forth in the basic 911 dispatcher job description is only the beginning of a successful application.

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If you are interested in having a positive impact on the Nashville metro area and saving lives then consider the following steps on how to become a 911 dispatcher in Nashville:

Make Yourself a Competitive Candidate for Work in Nashville
Apply with the Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center
Stay up to Date in your Career



Step 1. Making Yourself a Competitive Candidate for Work in Nashville

As you learn about how to become a 911 operator in Nashville you will come across the vigorous training regimen new-hires must complete to become fully qualified. Having experience with the areas in which you will be trained can serve as an advantage during your job interview.

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The Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center maintains links with the following organizations, which offer some of your required 911 operator training courses:

  • Association of Public-Communications Officials (APCO), offering Emergency Medical Dispatch and Basic Telecommunicator Certifications
  • Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), offering Public Safety Communications Accreditation
  • International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED), offering Emergency Medical Dispatch and Emergency Fire Dispatch Certifications
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), offering Incident Command Systems (ICS) and National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) Certification

Besides acquiring helpful 911 dispatcher training, studying for a degree in any of the following subjects will not only make you better qualified, but it will also boost your dispatcher credentials and broaden your future prospects. There are over a dozen colleges offering these programs in the Nashville area with additional educational opportunities online:

  • Psychology
  • Law Enforcement
  • Homeland Security
  • Communications
  • Emergency Management
  • Public Safety
  • Nursing



Step 2. Applying with the Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center

You can check the Nashville Human Resources Department’s employment opportunities webpage for any job openings with the Emergency Communications Center, where you can print off and mail in an application for 911 dispatcher jobs. Once you make it through the hiring process your training will last one year and include:

  • Law enforcement dispatch
  • Police ride-along
  • Fire dispatch
  • Fire culture
  • VESTA phone system
  • Medical, fire, and police codes
  • Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD)
  • Public safety language
  • CPR



Step 3. Staying Up to Date in Your Career

In addition to maintaining your ongoing training requirements that include in-service informational packets and training bulletins, you should always strive to stay on top of the latest developments in the 911 emergency dispatch field. This means monitoring the national and international emergency communications associations for technological updates and attending regional conferences.

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Besides making you a more professionally attractive candidate for promotion, keeping up with the latest developments in the 911 dispatcher field will ensure you are always ready for the next challenge, such as that recently met by a Nashville dispatcher who received a call from a man who was not speaking. Usually this would be treated as an abandoned-line emergency call and the police would be dispatched, but because the dispatcher had been trained in the new Smart911 system he recognized that the man had a history of heart trouble, and instead dispatched an ambulance. As it turned out, this quick medical dispatch likely saved the caller’s life because he had in-fact been having a heart attack and was unable to speak.

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