911 as a Profession
911 professionals, often described as the “first first responder,” have special training to help callers in emergencies by gathering essential information from callers, sending the right kind of help to the right location, and in some cases, by giving instructions until help arrives at the caller’s location. They must be calm under pressure and able to take control of often-unpredictable situations.
911 professionals are employed by a variety of local and State agencies including law enforcement agencies and fire departments, either as sworn or civilian personnel. Others work for emergency medical services or for cities, towns, counties or parishes.
Some 911 professionals are certified as emergency medical dispatchers (EMDs), emergency fire dispatchers (EFDs) or emergency police dispatchers (EPDs). These 911 professionals receive additional specialized training to assist callers in all types of emergencies and often provide life-saving information, such as instruction in CPR or first aid procedures, directly over the phone.
PSAP managers and supervisors may also be certified as emergency number professionals, or ENPs. This certification shows that the holder has mastered the comprehensive knowledge base necessary to manage an emergency number program.
Increasing incorporation of technology into the operations of public safety answering points (PSAPs) and 911 centers has led to greater demand for IT professionals and telecommunications technology specialists. An increasing number of systems monitor and analyze call patterns to detect trends such as disease outbreaks, crime patterns or potential terrorist activity, and many of them share data with surrounding communities. These systems need experts in database work as well as operations analysis and planning.
The advent of IP-enabled 911 will bring an even greater need for specialized technical skills at all levels.