Pima County sheriff's looking for new 9-1-1 dispatchers

Pima County sheriff's looking for new 9-1-1 dispatchers

CREATED Feb 24, 2013
Web Producer: Taylor Higgins Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -  The Pima County Sheriff's Department has developed a new training academy designed to prepare individuals for a career as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. 
The Sheriff's Department is looking for people who are highly motivated, team players who have the ability to multi-task in a face-paced work environment. 
9-1-1 dispatchers are critical to the day-to-day operations of the Pima County Sheriff's Department. They have the opportunity to work closely with law enforcement and provide mission-critical information to deputies in the community, says Deputy Tom Peine with the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

9-1-1 calls are a literal lifeline between the public and deputies. A dispatcher's job is intense -- nearly all the time -- and not everyone can handle it. "We try to stress that to our trainees right away. so that they understand it's an important job and we're here to serve the public and they're in the right mindset to do that," said Tali Carey, PCSD Communications Administration Superivisor.

It starts  the first day with hands-on training in  the Sheriff's Communication Center -- a training that now mirrors what deputies and correctional officers experience in the Academies. "We realized that we would develop them for a week or two and then they would get in and have their first exposure to the job and it wasn't what they were looking for, " said Carey.

Kimberly Boyce is five weeks into the revamped 8 week program. Classroom training continues at the new communications center -- which is near completion.

"It's stressful. There's a lot of liability. A lot of memorization and the training is hard. It's tough," said Boyce.

Training includes listening to and analyzing recordings of desperate life or death 911 calls. "There's a lot of people that come into this job not fully realizing the severity of what they're going to be doing or how important it is," said Johanna Rankin, who is the training supervisor. A reason it's vital to find the right person for this job.

A high school diploma, or GED,  is all that's required, as well as some key life skills. "Sometimes we might have a call where the person is in duress and can't tell us what's going on. We have to pick up on those subtlties that there might be something going on," said Rankin.

Rankin says intuition and common sense top the laundry list of skills required to be a dispatcher. "Sometimes we get people that come in and they're really sharp and they can pick up on that right away and some people can't. this isn't a job for everybody, but you never know until you try, " said Rankin.
Peine tells KGUN9 that the Dispatch Academy is an eight-week training program that consists of lectures, scenarios, hands-on and technology training, followed by 16 weeks of on-the-job training.
Those who complete the training to become 9-1-1 dispatchers will work in the Department's new Pima Emergency Communications and Operations Center beginning this summer.
If you want to learn more about this unique opportunity, the Sheriff's Department will be hosting an online Career Chat on the Department's Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, February 26. 
During the chat session, supervisors with the Sheriff's Communications Unit will be available to answer questions about the 9-1-1 dispatcher position and about the current application and training process, Peine says.
The window to submit an application for the Dispatch Academy will close March 8.  The starting salary is $34,775.
Click here for more information http://www.pima.gov/hr/recruitment.asp   When you click on "All Current Listings Open To The Public" and scroll down through the job announcements, you will find one named "Sheriff's 911 Dispatcher" with the information you are looking for.