Public Safety Dispatcher

Bloomington, IL
City of Bloomington

Bloomington IL
Salary: $52,665.60 Annually


This critical role serves as the vital communications link between the public needing help and emergency services response. As first responders, public safety dispatchers (PSD) are typically the first point of contact when a person reaches out for help. This requires a candidate to be able to work independently in a high-stress environment while receiving and evaluating incoming emergency and administrative requests for emergency services, including but not limited to law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS); triaging those requests for service; providing guidance and assistance to the public in life-safety situations; and coordinating appropriate responses to high-risk, high-stress operations, with the objective of keeping all participants safe.

Examples of Duties

This list may not include all tasks and/or knowledge which may be expected of the employee, nor does it cover all specific duties which may be required. Other duties may be assigned.

  • Using training and policies to screen requests for emergency services; answering them professionally, recognizing if a call is received from telephone, text, video, or an automated data feed.
  • Using appropriate technology to communicate with callers.
  • Using knowledge of law enforcement, fire, and EMS protocols to prioritize and sequence calls promptly in limited time with limited or no supervision.
  • Demonstrating clear and effective communications with active listening, call control, judgment, respect, and empathy with callers that range from calm to panicked.
  • Providing pre-arrival and post-dispatch instructions to those that are requiring assistance during high-stress situations, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), childbirth, hemorrhaging, active-shooter, and entrapments.
  • Managing challenging callers using appropriate handling of distressed, autistic, hearing-impaired, elderly, angry, and foreign-language-speaking callers.
  • Providing direct counseling to suicidal persons, domestic violence victims, and children.
  • Ascertaining incident information by obtaining and verifying caller information and location, determining the nature of the incident, and all available data including but not limited to automated data, social media information, text message, images or video, and providing information to emergency services either verbally and/or digitally.
  • Using TDD and relay services to comply with standards for handling calls from hearing-impaired callers.
  • Utilizing language interpretation services and coordinating with mental health resources for appropriate contacts with callers who have mental health or language barriers to receiving help.
  • Using text-to-911 to communicate effectively with callers.
  • Interpreting caller location by using geographic knowledge, tools, and location tracking capabilities when available.
  • Interpreting automatic number and automatic location data provided by the emergency communications phone system and verifying data using mapping software for accuracy and reliability.
  • Maintaining communications during life-threatening emergencies, providing safety/lifesaving instructions, and maintaining control of the conversation until field units arrive on scene.
  • Using available vehicular, bystander, and/or law enforcement information for the purpose of protecting the public at the scene as well as on-scene responders by identifying the need for advanced life support resources or specialized fire extraction equipment.
  • Utilizing training and reference resources when determining the nature and priority of emergency incidents that have live-streaming videos, graphic images, and text.
  • Using training and operational protocols to take appropriate action such as: relaying critical information, dispatching/initiating emergency response services, or referring callers to other agencies.
  • Documenting incident details quickly and accurately to establish incident urgency, categorizing the incident type and obtaining the proper help for the caller.
  • Demonstrating clear and effective communications and active listening with public safety responders using appropriate terminology, codes, and signals.
  • Relaying initial information for dispatch accurately, reviewing the call for service details, and assuming incident command until first responders arrive.
  • Conducting health and safety status checks of responders and using other available technology to ensure on-scene responders’ safety.
  • Documenting thoroughly and accurately all incident activities while maintaining awareness of scene activities.
  • Operating emergency, administrative, and backup telephone and radio communications systems effectively.
  • Facilitating the transferring of calls to the appropriate resources and performing conference calls with entities, such as but not limited to poison control centers or helicopter dispatch.
  • Interpreting and understanding local and regional geography to quickly and accurately identify the location of the emergency to improve response times of field responders.
  • Operating a sophisticated workstation comprised of multiple computer systems, computer-aided dispatch (CAD) software and geographical information systems (GIS), state and federal clearinghouses, call handling including teletypewriter (TTY) and text-to-911 sessions, as well as communications systems such as radio dispatch consoles and recording systems.
  • Operating multiple systems and conversations simultaneously without mistake.
  • Notifying key personnel of critical incidents, using judgment to determine the need to contact other law enforcement and public safety agencies for additional information and resources as needed, or relaying information regarding incidents and situational awareness.
  • Activating mass community warning and notification software programs to inform the public of impending critical information related to such things as severe weather impacts, potential injury or life-safety events.
  • Managing chain of custody for records and documentation used in court proceedings and legal discovery.
  • Maintaining a calm demeanor under chaotic and stressful circumstances, multiple conversations, and frequently noisy environments.
  • Completing training, certifications, and competencies as needed by actively seeking training, completing the training and certifications required for assigned PST positions, and completing continuing education and career development as necessary.
  • Following established agency policies and procedures, being aware of liability to the agency, and adhering to federal disclosure and privacy laws.
  • Using debriefing tools, stress management techniques. and critical incident response models to deal with mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

Typical Qualifications

  • By the end of the probationary period, thorough knowledge of the policies, procedures, processes, laws, ordinances, and regulations affecting public safety call-taking and the ability to apply them appropriately.
  • Able to use logic, critical thinking, and reasoning to reach conclusions and solve problems.
  • Ability to prioritize multiple events based on available resources—critical thinking.
  • Adhere to policy and procedure requirements that are stringent, rigorous, and unwavering, including confidentiality of information and trustworthiness while dealing with sensitive information.
  • Communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively; relay details accurately; listen actively; think and act quickly.
  • Compile and analyze operational data and prepare and maintain accurate records.
  • Effectively interact with people of different social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Establish and maintain cooperative and professional working relationships with co-workers, supervisors, representatives from other departments, and other emergency services agencies.
  • Follow instructions, spell correctly, and write clearly.
  • Handle multiple tasks simultaneously, under pressure, and in emergency and stressful situations.
  • Learn quickly and retain public safety and technology training material.
  • Maintain regular, reliable, and punctual attendance.
  • Obtain information from hostile, confusing, and emotional callers.
  • Provide effective customer service and deal tactfully and courteously with a demanding public.
  • Able to handle complaints and difficult situations, remaining calm under pressure.
  • Remember names, numbers, and locations accurately.
  • Read and interpret geographical spatial data and maps quickly and accurately.
  • Resilient and resourceful while coordinating high-risk, high-stress operations, with the objective of keeping all participants safe.

Required Education/Experience:
A high school diploma or GED.

Preferred Certificates or Licenses:
Must be able to obtain and maintain the following licenses and certifications within a given time frame:

Illinois Department of Public Health, Emergency Medical Dispatcher
Illinois State Police, Full Access Certification, Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS)
American Heart Association, CPR Certification
International Academy of Emergency Dispatch Certifications:
Emergency Telecommunicator Course (ETC)
Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD)
Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD)
Emergency Police Dispatch (EPD)

Physical Requirements/Working Conditions: Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of this position.

  • Work is performed in an emergency communications center. The work level can fluctuate from minimal to fast-paced and high volume. The employee deals with crisis situations that require them to quickly make major decisions involving people, resources, and property with frequently limited direction.
  • The PSD may be asked to work scheduled shifts at any time of the day and on weekends and holidays. Must be able to cope in a safe manner with stressful situations, emotional callers, responders, and unprofessional contacts. Under unusual circumstances, the PSD may be required to perform duties at or near the scene of any emergency.
  • This position is designated as essential and must report to work during times when other facilities maybe closed. This position is subject to call back and hold over to maintain minimum staffing 24/7.