Watson Consoles Blog

Sep 10, 2019 Health & Wellness

The Key Differences Between a Call Center and a Life-saving Dispatch Center

First Responders working with a Dispatch Center

911 dispatchers are the central hub for emergency personnel. Often called the first (first) responders, these tele-communicators are the first point of contact during an emergency situation, responsible for triaging the call, gathering information, and providing the necessary aid.

Dispatchers are expected to not only keep themselves and their caller calm during high-stress situations, but also provide accurate assistance. Despite the strenuous job requirements, 911 dispatch is often classified as a clerical position, and only recently has there been a fight to change their classification to something more than just administrative secretaries. Here are the key differences between a typical clerical tele-marketer call center, and a 911 dispatch center.

Responsibilities of a 911 dispatcher agent

In an emergency situation, 911 dispatchers are the first trained person of contact. Their job is to assess a critical, often life or death situation, and to relay the proper information to first responders. Instead of actually being the physical responder at the emergency scene, they’re administering duties over the phone and supporting the needs of the first responder.


watson consoles furniture

A dispatcher’s duties start the second the phone is answered. Accessing the situation either by back and forth communication with the caller, analyzing background noise, and/or tone of the caller's voice. They are then responsible for staying calm while administering necessary commands, reasoning with a suicidal subject, soothing a crying child, etc. The information and instruction provided by these individuals is often key to stabilizing or saving a life.

The road to becoming a dispatcher consists of an extensive pre-employment process that often includes a panel interview, skills test, background investigation, medical/psychological evaluations, along with continued classes and on the job training. Most initial training programs for 911 dispatchers last about 40 hours, with on-site training lasting anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

Standards are often set by each agency, however, dispatcher training often includes courses in:

  • Advanced First Aid/CPR/AED
  • Basic Telecommunications
  • Critical Incident Stress
  • Domestic Violence
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Suicide Intervention
  • Terroism
  • TTY Training

Responsibilities of a call center representative

call center representative

Call centers and tele-marketing, on the other hand, are trained in customer service. The main goal of call agents is focused on solving a product or brand-related issue over the phone to make a customer happy. Not save their life! Unlike 911 dispatchers, they are not trained in high stress or life-related emergency situations, and do not have the proper training to support first responders.

Telemarketers and call centers, in general, focus on the following job requirements:

  • Managing large amounts of inbound and outbound calls in a timely manner.
  • Following call center “scripts” when handling different topics.
  • Identifying customers’ needs, clarify information, research every issue and providing solutions.
  • Seize opportunities to upsell products when they arise.
  • Build sustainable relationships and engage customers by taking the extra mile.
  • Keep records of all conversations in our call center database in a comprehensible way.
  • Frequently attend educational seminars to improve knowledge and performance level.
  • Meet personal/team qualitative and quantitative targets.

As you can see, the responsibilities of call center agents are rooted in a company’s sales goals; not life saving goals. A clear division from that of the emergency dispatch industry job requirements.

Watson At Work

You take care of others, let us take care of you. Watson Consoles is dedicated to focus and comfort, reduced stress, and the general health and well being of 911 dispatchers and all Dispatch Centers throughout the U.S.. Created with a user-first mentality, Watson’s USA made, functional, durable, and beautiful technology furniture stands out in the world that, most importantly, helps 911 dispatchers and first responders do their job efficiently and effectively.

Have a question about how we might help your dispatch agency improve their office design for increased wellness and efficiency?

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