Q. I've heard that 911 call-taking and dispatching can be very stressful. Is that true?
A. It can be. The job is very fast paced and each call taker and dispatcher must make critical decisions that may directly affect the person's life or safety. Most dispatchers who make a career in 911 are able to deal with the variety of situations without becoming overtly stressed. For those times they do experience stress, we have a peer support system in place as well as services from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Q. Is being a 911 call taker/dispatcher rewarding?
A. This can be a very rewarding and fulfilling occupation. The call takers and dispatchers at Paulding County E-911 have literally saved lives by instructing callers how to do CPR, deliver babies, give rescue breathing, and getting information to law and fire responders via the radio that keeps them safe. Being able to provide these services to the public and to responders can be an incredible feeling.
Q. What kind of education do I need to be a call taker/dispatcher?
A. You must have a high school diploma or GED. There are no specific higher education courses required to work at Paulding County E-911. It does help if you have a good employment record that involves customer contact, and you should also have very good computer and keyboarding skills.
You should be comfortable and have familiarity with various technologies, such as computer operations, basic radio functionality and multi-line telephones. These are not requirements, but being comfortable with technology and the rapid change and advancement of technology in the workplace would assist you to be a successful employee at Paulding County E-911.
Q. Is there a background check?
A. An extremely thorough background check is completed on every applicant. You should not apply if you have any felony convictions. You may also be disqualified if you have EVER used any illegal drugs. Other criminal records are taken into consideration during the hiring process and may or may not be disqualifying, depending on several factors. Our background standards are similar to those of any law enforcement agency when hiring for new police officers.
Q. What happens after I apply?
A. After you apply for a position at Paulding County E-911, you will be required to take a computer based test (Criticall) which evaluates your skills to work in the emergency communications profession.
If you pass the Criticall test, you will be placed on the eligibility register and invited to participate in an oral review panel. The oral review panel consist of employees of the E-911 Center. The top scoring candidates from the oral review panel will be invited back for a 4 hour sit-in to observe first hand the work of a Communications Officer. During the sit-in, the candidate is evaluated by at least 2 Communications Officers. If, after the sit-in, a candidate is still interested in employment, he or she will begin the background check process. Candidates who successfully pass the background investigation will be invited to an interview with the 911 Director and Deputy Director.
After the interview, you may be offered a position at Paulding County E-911 contingent on passing a Psychological examination and medical screening. This Psychological examination will evaluate your cognitive skills and it will evaluate your overall propensity to be successful in this career. It is not a test to evaluate mental illness, but your ability to be a successful Communications Officer at Paulding County E-911. The medical screening evaluates your hearing and visual acuity that is required to perform the duties of call taker and dispatcher.
We are looking for the very best candidates, which is why the process involves so many steps and why there is a high level of detail in evaluating each prospective candidate.
Q. Are there opportunities for career advancement in 911?
A. There are advancement opportunities within Paulding County E-911. A call taker/dispatcher may qualify to apply for other positions in Paulding County E-911. A career path within Paulding County E-911 may include promotion from Communications Officer to Lead Communications Officer, from Lead Communications Officer to Communications Supervisor, from Communications Supervisor to Section Manager, and even from Section Manger to Deputy Director or Director. Your career path could move to other agencies outside of Paulding County E-911 as well. Other 911 centers may hire supervisors and management staff from other agencies besides their own, depending on the experience of the applicant. Many Communications Officers are very satisfied remaining in that position or as a Lead or Shift Supervisor for their entire career. However, if you have ambition and drive to move up the chain of command, there are opportunities within and outside of Paulding County E-911.
We do request that employees commit to 2 years of service before seeking employment with an outside agency due to the expense of training new employees.
Q. What do dispatchers get paid?
A. You may contact Paulding County Human Resources for current county benefits.
Q. How long does training last?
A. Training to be a Communications Officer is fast paced and intensive. All trainees attend phase training beginning with an orientation phase and progressing to call-taking training, fire dispatch training and law enforcement radio training. Trainees can expect to complete the training phases in 5-9 months depending on how quickly they progress and if remedial training is needed. Trainees also attend a state academy for certified training within the first 6 months of employment.
Q. What kinds of shifts to call takers/dispatchers work?
A. Like all 911 centers, Paulding County 9-1-1 operates 24-hours a day, 365 days per year. We have a required minimum staffing to maintain each day.
We staff four 12 hour shifts from 6am to 6pm and 6pm to 6am. Shift assignments are made, based on the needs of the agency first and the request of the employee second, when a trainee completes all training phases. Any employee may submit a written request for a preferred shift at any time. Request for specific shift assignments are honored when possible.
Paulding County E-911 employees must be willing to work weekends & holidays. The Communications Officers at Paulding County E-911 work a rotating work schedule every 2 weeks comprised of (First week) 2 days on duty, 2 days off duty, 3 days on duty (Second Week) 2 days off duty, 2 days on duty, 3 days off duty. Each employee, after completing training, is required to serve in a rotating "on-call" status. All employees are subject to recall in the event of a large scale natural or man-made disaster.