Career and Job Search Guide


Dispatchers coordinate and schedule the movement of employees, work equipment, or automobiles loaded with cargo or passengers. Dispatchers are employed by companies providing taxi and emergency response services. Dispatchers maintain call and vehicle dispatch records. Usually, they draft comprehensive reports detailing their daily work activities. Most dispatchers utilize computerized dispatch technology to complete their duties.

Dispatchers are responsible for communication in a designated region. Those working for large dispatch centers often work in groups. Their responsibilities vary by the company or organization they work for.

Public safety dispatchers, better known as 911 dispatchers, dispatch paramedics, law enforcement officers, and firefighters to emergencies. The first people called during a life threatening situation are usually 911 dispatchers. With the proper medical certifications, dispatchers can provide instruction before medical professionals arrive.

911 dispatchers either work in fire or police stations, call centers, or hospitals. In certain regions, the dispatch center is housed at the police, fire, or other public safety departments. When a call comes into one of these centralized dispatch centers, the dispatcher gets information about the injury and transfers it to the department that will respond.

During an emergency call, dispatchers must ask questions to determine the caller's location and gravity of the emergency. After the dispatcher has made these determinations, he or she uses a computer to relay the information to appropriate first responders who can respond quickest to the emergency. If necessary, dispatchers monitor first responders' locations until reaching the site of the emergency. As mentioned, licensed dispatchers sometimes provide instructions for emergency first aid over the phone before paramedics arrive. They also continually monitor the injured person's condition and communicate this information to first responders. Additionally, dispatchers relay information between paramedics and health professionals working at the hospital. Dispatchers also take service calls and direct product deliveries. Truck dispatchers coordinate cargo deliveries for truckers and warehouses. Truck dispatchers coordinate cargo pickup, delivery, take customers' delivery requests, and schedule the routes truckers drive and the cargo they haul. Bus dispatchers resolve problems delaying bus service, ensure buses remain on schedule, and arrange for bus service when scheduled buses are unavailable. Train dispatchers coordinate train transportation, so they need to know when trains switch tracks, areas with construction, and the positions of other moving trains. Taxicab dispatchers, commonly known as starters, send taxis to customers who need rides, and these dispatchers keep records. Tow-truck dispatchers dispatch tow trucks or other road service professionals to help people with vehicle problems. Gas and water service dispatchers dispatch service vehicles and workers to repair damaged water and gas lines.

Work environment. Workings as a dispatcher can be stressful, especially when they are answering a lot of calls. If public safety dispatchers make mistakes or coordinate a slow response, people can die. Moreover, obtaining information can be very difficult from people panicked or in shock. No matter how angry or unresponsive a caller may be, dispatchers must keep their cool and remain in control.

Dispatchers sit for the majority of the day speaking on phones and monitoring computers or video screens, so many experience back pain and eyestrain. They usually work 40 hour weeks but often in rotating shifts since most dispatch centers are usually open 24 hours.