Dispatchers work in a busy environment and most of the time they work beyond normal hours. A dispatcher receives information from various sources, most of which are emergency based and communicates with relevant authorities for quick action.
The position demands people with high levels of self-motivation coupled with the ability to multitask, good memory, and people who are not emotional. The work can be stressful at times and it calls for individuals who can work under pressure and still retain their work quality and ethics. To work effectively in a dispatcher position, the following skills are necessary:
1. You must pass the dispatcher test.
The critical test practice helps applicants for dispatcher positions prepare for the dispatcher test. The exam measures an applicant’s reasoning skills, communication skills, speech recognition, and multitasking skills. The test asks questions revolving around emergencies and how to deal with each. The test is a must for any applicant to qualify and get a chance to be taken through the orientation process.
2. Be good at multitasking.
The position deals more with emergencies and in some situations, the dispatcher might receive a series of calls that require them to record the information and then communicate with the relevant personnel on the ground.
They must know how to give priorities to calls and understand the best person or department to call for quick and appropriate action. The position requires workers who can do several tasks at the same time.
3. Excellent communication skills.
Dispatchers receive calls, give feedback, look for help, and follow-up on actions. They receive calls from people who are in distress yet they must get detailed information from them. To work as a dispatcher, you require to be a good listener and then be good at communicating information like giving exact details of names, situations, places, and what action is required.
4. They must be organized.
Organizational skills are a must for any dispatcher. They must gather information in a well-organized manner and record it in order of priority and source. This will help to avoid confusion and unnecessary mistakes. The information they get need to be entered correctly in the computer and they must keep an organized record of data for future use.
5. Right judgment skills.
A dispatcher should judge situations well and make the right decision independently or through consultation. Even though they are communicating through calls and they are not seeing what’s happening on the ground, they must be sharp in making decisions on which situation requires prioritized attention and which ones can wait for a few minutes.
6. Team collaboration skills.
A dispatcher works closely with various teams and departments. Within their workstation, they assist each other with ideas for the best actions to take and give each other moral support.
Outside their workstation, they work closely with departments like the police, ambulance, flying doctors, firemen, hospitals, and when needed by government officials. They must develop collaborative skills with all these departments to help make their work easy.
7. They must be compassionate.
When talking to a distressed caller, a dispatcher requires to show empathy to the caller and assure them help is on the way. Even when the caller is pushing them to the edge, they must understand it’s because they are in a life and death situation and give an assuring word to help the caller feel that someone is understanding their situation and therefore they will take action.
8. Be able to control their emotions.
Having a high level of emotional control helps dispatchers to communicate more effectively and make sound judgments. When an emotional caller is on the line, the dispatcher must remain calm to help the caller calm down and give information clearly. It also helps them give instructions to the caller and the team sending help.
9. Able to give directions.
Within the geographical region the dispatcher is working, they must have a vast knowledge of the area. They need to know the major landmarks, roads by their names, and areas covered by specific area codes.
Immediately a caller calls and mentions an area, the dispatcher should be able to know what area it is and the fastest or safest route to get there. The teams on the ground will largely rely on directions given by the dispatcher.
10. Able to use the latest technology.
Distress calls and messages can come through many means like chats, video calls, voice calls, emails, social media, and SMS. It all depends on the situation the distressed person is in and the communication method at their disposal at that moment.
Dispatch centers are also equipped with the latest technology and their computers are loaded with the latest software and communication equipment. Some tools allow automated dispatch messages and telephones use multi-line systems. The dispatcher is required to be up to date with technology.
11. Be adaptable.
The dispatcher’s work environment is flexible and can change according to the need. Sometimes they will be required to work double shifts because a colleague is away or emergencies are too many. Sometimes shifts can suddenly change and technology keeps changing too. The dispatcher must be highly adaptable to an ever-changing work environment and be ready to move with change.