The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management is on the hunt for new 911 dispatchers, according to a news release sent out Sunday.
San Francisco receives more than 1.2 million emergency and non-emergency calls per year, coming out to an average of 3,400 per day. Call volume has increased with the growing population, and today dispatchers are answering 1,000 more calls than they did five years ago.
911 dispatch centers are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, meaning that employees must be willing to work around the clock, such as night shifts and holidays.
Qualifications required for the position include two years experience in a public contact position, a high school diploma or GED, and the ability to work quickly and precisely under pressure. To make sure those who apply are qualified, two exams are conducted to test memory, responses, and interpersonal skills.
“People quickly realize they are dealing with real life while taking actual emergency calls and start sending first responders to an emergency,” said Robert Smuts, Deputy Director for Emergency Communications (9-1- 1), SFDEM. “Becoming a dispatcher is a rigorous process designed to ensure you have the skills and emotional intelligence to help people on their worst days.”
“San Francisco has an extensive screening process to ensure that people have the basic skills, temperament, ability, and integrity for the opportunity to become a dispatcher,” said Sandy Chan, Human Resources Manager, SFDEM. “It can take up to nine months to effectively screen applicants. For this eligible list the earliest a candidate could be appointed to the academy is September 2017.
If the application process sounds like a lot of work, the salary might make it worth it: the starting pay for a Public Safety Communications Dispatcher is $81,558 annually.