Empathy. If you ask James Moser, a Communications training instructor at the Broward Sheriff’s Office, it’s the most important quality an emergency dispatcher can possess.
“The great thing about Broward County is its diversity – different languages, backgrounds and accents,” Moser said. “Yet, this diversity makes some callers harder to understand, and some have different definitions about what an emergency is. As a dispatcher, you must be patient, prepared, calm and compassionate.”
Moser teaches a 13-week training course to prepare dispatchers for live calls. Many of the trainees come in fresh, without any previous experience. The course covers emergency lifesaving procedures, the specific roles of dispatchers in a large-scale incident, and how to read maps, find specific addresses and direct calls. Moser also teaches them the second language dispatchers use to communicate more effectively with first responders: 10-codes and signals.
“We don’t say ‘respond to a disturbance’,” he said. “We say ‘10-65, signal 22’.”
As an instructor, Moser has the opportunity to both perfect the skills of those entering dispatch and show them what makes being a dispatcher great.
“The best part of our job is being able to help people in the community. Residents call us when they are experiencing the worst events imaginable and we have the opportunity to make a difference and potentially save a life. We give CPR instructions over the phone and bring loved ones back to life; we deliver babies; we deal with hostage situations, bank robberies and other incredible incidents. We hardly ever receive thanks, but that’s not what keeps us going. We come to work each day knowing that we change outcomes for the better. The firefighters put out the fires, the police serve and protect, but that all begins with the dispatchers. We begin that lifesaving process.”
Moser lives in Boynton Beach with his fiancé, Ryan, and their dog, Yokas.
THIS REPORT BY:
Michael Colapietro/Community Affairs Specialist