Training a Dispatcher

So often it seems like we want to flush out new hires. We feel elite. We are elite. But if we don’t take the time to focus on the strengths, minimize the weaknesses encourage and train good 9-1-1 operators/dispatchers we’ll be elite AND overworked.

Letting out just Enough of the Apron Strings

One of the toughest things about being a trainer is letting go of that control. Once your trainee shows enough aptitude to do some things on his or her own, we have to let them take more and more control of their own call taking. This is tough to do. It’s hard to bite back on the urge to take over. After all, we can determine the nature of the call, get it into the computer and direct the call to a conclusion so much faster than they can. But, that’s not the point. Unless they are seriously messing up or they are putting someone’s life in danger, as a trainer, we have to just let them do it. If we train them well, they will eventually be just as astute and efficient as we are.

Cutting the Strings

Eventually this has to be done. I don’t know who was more nervous each time one of my trainees went on their own. For me, I believe the only thing more stressful that the first day one of my trainees was on her own was the day I went on my own.

Training new 9-1-1 operator/dispatchers takes a special person. I’ve seen trainers who were the epitome of patience. They were zen-like. I’ve also seen trainers who reminded me of slave drivers. As a trainer, I had my strengths and my weaknesses. I was lucky to have a strong training department to keep me on task when I went askew. I even had a trainee taken away from me once because I was sure she never was going to make it and she just wasn’t performing up to my standards. I found out my standards were a bit high and the department wanted a second opinion. Although I was miffed at the time, I understand now that putting her with another trainer just to see was a good way to protect their investment. I tried to keep in mind all the overtime and stand-bys I had to work due to being understaffed when I was feeling high and mighty and like it might be fun to jump on the bandwagon and flush someone out. We want to make sure our officers, fire fighters and citizens are safe. We won’t be there forever and would actually like to not have to be there all the time during our careers. With that in mind, be kind to your trainees and help them succeed.


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