What is an Ambulance Dispatcher?

An ambulance dispatcher, also called a 9-1-1 operator or public safety telecommunicator, is someone who answers emergency and non-emergency calls. They take information from the caller and send the appropriate type and number of units. Ambulance dispatchers work in an emergency communication centre, often called a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).

Also known as: Public Safety Telecommunicator, Emergency Communications Dispatcher, Public Safety Dispatcher, 911 Dispatcher, Emergency Medical Dispatcher

Find your compatibility

Would you make a good ambulance dispatcher? Sokanu's free assessment reveals your exact compatibility with this career, your strengths, and any unique areas of interest.

Take the career test

What does an Ambulance Dispatcher do?

An ambulance dispatcher typically does the following:

  • Answers 9-1-1 telephone calls
  • Determines from the caller the type of emergency and its location
  • Decides the appropriate emergency response based on agency policies and procedures
  • Relays information to the appropriate emergency or non-emergency service agency or agencies
  • Coordinates sending emergency response personnel
  • Gives over-the-phone medical help and other instructions before emergency personnel get to the scene
  • Monitors and tracks the status of an ambulance on assignment
  • Synchronizes responses with other area communication centres
  • Keeps detailed records about calls

An ambulance dispatcher will answer calls for service when someone needs help from police, firefighters, emergency services, or a combination of the three. They take both emergency and non-emergency calls. Ambulance dispatchers must stay calm while collecting vital information from callers to determine the severity of a situation. They then give the appropriate first responder agencies information about the call.

Some ambulance dispatchers only take calls. Others only use radios to send appropriate personnel. Many dispatchers do both tasks. Ambulance dispatchers keep detailed records about the calls that they take. They may use a computer system to log important facts, such as the name and location of the caller. They may also use crime databases, maps, and weather reports when helping emergency response teams.

Ambulance dispatchers may monitor alarm systems, alerting law enforcement or fire personnel when a crime or fire occurs. In some situations, dispatchers must work with people in other jurisdictions to share information or to transfer calls.

Ambulance dispatchers must often give instructions on what to do before responders arrive. Some dispatchers are trained to give medical help over the phone, For example, they might help someone give first aid until emergency medical services get to the scene.

What is the workplace of an Ambulance Dispatcher like?

Ambulance dispatchers work in a communication center, often called a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Most dispatchers work for local governments, but some work for larger jurisdictions or for private companies. They are largely employed by law enforcement agencies and fire departments. Most dispatchers work 8- to 12-hour shifts. Dispatchers often have to work weekends, holidays, and overtime, as emergency calls can come in at any time.

Work as an ambulance dispatcher can be stressful. They may have to work long hours, take many calls, and deal with troubling situations. Some calls may be distressing, and the pressure to respond to emergency situations quickly can be demanding.

Similar Careers

×