Pima County sheriff's looking for new 9-1-1 dispatchers
9-1-1 calls are a literal lifeline between the public and deputies. A dispatcher's job is intense -- nearly all the time -- and not everyone can handle it. "We try to stress that to our trainees right away. so that they understand it's an important job and we're here to serve the public and they're in the right mindset to do that," said Tali Carey, PCSD Communications Administration Superivisor.
It starts the first day with hands-on training in the Sheriff's Communication Center -- a training that now mirrors what deputies and correctional officers experience in the Academies. "We realized that we would develop them for a week or two and then they would get in and have their first exposure to the job and it wasn't what they were looking for, " said Carey.
Kimberly Boyce is five weeks into the revamped 8 week program. Classroom training continues at the new communications center -- which is near completion.
"It's stressful. There's a lot of liability. A lot of memorization and the training is hard. It's tough," said Boyce.
Training includes listening to and analyzing recordings of desperate life or death 911 calls. "There's a lot of people that come into this job not fully realizing the severity of what they're going to be doing or how important it is," said Johanna Rankin, who is the training supervisor. A reason it's vital to find the right person for this job.
A high school diploma, or GED, is all that's required, as well as some key life skills. "Sometimes we might have a call where the person is in duress and can't tell us what's going on. We have to pick up on those subtlties that there might be something going on," said Rankin.
Rankin says intuition and common sense top the laundry list of skills required to be a dispatcher. "Sometimes we get people that come in and they're really sharp and they can pick up on that right away and some people can't. this isn't a job for everybody, but you never know until you try, " said Rankin.