Finding and Keeping Good Dispatchers
From: Roxanna McGinnis ([email protected])
Date: 02 Jun 1997
Remote Name: 22.214.171.124
I work at a 9-1-1 dispatch center for a county of about 80,000in western Montana. In the past several years, it seems like ithas been almost impossible to find and keep good dispatchers.Five years ago, we could expect to get 50 – 70 applicants in arecruitment, but that number has dropped significantly despitethe fact that our starting pay has greatly increased and therehave been no significant changes in qualifications. Our centerjust completed another recruitment and received only about 20applicants, of which only 8 passed the initial testing. Fromthese we need to hire five! Have any other dispatch centers beenexperiencing this problem? We are wondering if it could be partlybecause of all of the bad press 9-1-1 has been receiving lately.Any suggestions regarding ways to attract quality applicantswould be greatly appreciated. The second problem we have is thatonce dispatchers are hired, we have about a 50% attrition rateduring the training program, either because they cannot do thejob, or they decide the job just isn’t for them. I’m very curiousabout what kind of attrition rate other dispatch centers have,and what kind of training is most successful at making andkeeping good dispatchers. All of our training is done in-house,starting with a period of classroom training for policy issuesand learning the computer techniques. When that is finished,trainees plug in with various dipatchers and monitor, thenfinally begin taking calls with a trainer plugged in. Trainersand trainees are not assigned one-to-one, but trainees will workwith four or five different trainers throughout the trainingperiod. It takes about 10 weeks to train someone in thecall-taking phase alone. Any input would be greatly appreciated.We are very understaffed at the moment and need to find and keepsome good dispatchers quickly for the rest of us to getvacations!