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Here's what it takes to be a San Diego Sheriff's Department emergency dispatcher

Emergency service dispatchers are a lifeline between someone in danger and the help they need.

SAN DIEGO — Emergency service dispatchers are a lifeline between someone in danger and the help they need. The San Diego Sheriff’s Communication Center answers an average of 800,000 calls for service each year. And to keep up with the high volume, they’re looking for men and women to join. 

It’s the call that no one wants to make, but one that emergency services dispatchers at the San Diego Sheriff's Office are ready to answer. 

“It requires us to really think on our feet and act quickly,” Gina Thompson, sheriff emergency service dispatcher. 

Answering the call is not as easy as it seems, dispatchers like Gina Thompson and Samuel Peters are some of the 120 staff members who answer over 2,000 calls each day. 

To be able to do so, you must go through extensive training which can take up to a year to complete and pass what’s called the CritiCall test. 

Which looks at your typing skills, mapping, comprehension, and memory skills.

“That test challenges that. If you can think quickly and respond to those scenarios. We’re typing all day long and spelling is important, how fast you can type is important. If you can comprehend what the caller is saying and put it into a form that the radio side can also understand,” said Gina Thompson. 

The vigorous training helps dispatchers respond to the high volume of calls. Dispatchers answer to all of San Diego county, including any of the unincorporated parts of the county, as well as nine contract cities, which is just over a million people. 

“If you want to make a difference and you want to help somebody then this is the kind of job that you could do that,” added Gina Thompson. 

The job can also be intense, the key, said Thompson and Peters, is to remain calm.

“Generally, you're talking to somebody on one of the worst moments of their life, they can be upset, they can be crying. Their sense of time is different when they're in an emergency. So, when you remain calm and are able to help them out, it really helps them stay calm, brings them back down routes them and you know you can get them the help they need,” said Gina Thompson.

“I think what's important is that the person that wants to become dispatcher is calm, collected, and has very rational problem solving skills. Not only that, I believe that you need to have your heart in the right place and want to serve and protect the community,” Samuel Peters, sheriff emergency service dispatcher. 

To become a dispatcher no experience is needed. 

What's required:

  • You must have a high school diploma 
  • Pass the CritiCall test 
  • Willing to have a flexible schedule

As a trainee you earn $26.56 per hour and once a dispatcher, you earn $29.44 per hour. 

For more information about how to apply, click here.

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