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What's The Training Needed To Become A 911 Dispatcher? It's Not Always Easy

As seen on Oxygen's new series "911 Crisis Center," an emergency dispatch center job is an intense and unusual one. Here's what it takes to become a dispatcher.

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What’s the Training Needed to Become a 911 Dispatcher?
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What’s the Training Needed to Become a 911 Dispatcher?

Want to work in an emergency dispatch center? Here’s how to get the job and what you can expect from training before you’re working at the center and fielding 911 calls.

Watch one episode of "911 Crisis Center" and you'll be asking yourself: How do they do this job?

After all, the dispatchers featured in "911 Crisis Center" (which premieres Saturday, November 6 at 9/8c on Oxygen), have to maintain their cool as they answer all sorts of emergency calls. Sometimes they're contacted about fires or explosions. Other times it's to handle intruders or gunshots. Still, other times it's about medical emergencies, like heart attacks or even childbirth. The dispatchers have to get all the information necessary from panicked, sometimes angry callers, relay it to the right responders, and impart any important instructions or guidance, like CPR to the caller. It's basically the definition of stress.

These dispatchers are experts at what they do, though, and they have to go through rigorous training before they're manning the phones.

The first part of getting a 911 dispatcher job is, is of course, an application. From there, potential employees are invited to a shadow interview, where they can see firsthand what exactly happens during a shift. Not everyone wants to go forward after witnessing what goes on in an emergency dispatch center, but plenty do. The next step is a formal interview, and if you're hired, it's time to embark on training.

Trainees are given a very thorough manual, which has instructions for everything from administering CPR to treating a stab wound. They are also paired with a trainer, who keeps a close eye on them and offers tips and words of wisdom at the end of the day, highlighting what they need to improve on. They're also evaluated after every shift and rated on their performance.

Training can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the person. Once it's completed, trainees get to celebrate with a small party and some cake in the Chagrin Valley Dispatch Center. It's an exciting moment that required plenty of patience, hard work, and a strong mindset.

Learn more about the nuances of training in the video, above, And catch the series premiere of "911 Crisis Center" on Saturday, November 6 at 9/8c on Oxygen.

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