I had the opportunity to sit down with two different dispatcher and listen in as they were doing their jobs. I did not realize that their job actually entailed so much. Now I get to admit my past ignorance. I thought that they just took 911 calls and direct calls for the police department and fire department. Understand I do not watch a lot of cops shows.
The fist dispatcher I sat down with was in charge of the Oquirrh area of Salt Lake County. He was actively monitoring five different radio channels, taking phone calls and dispatching police officers to various locations. All of this was going on while he was also explaining his job and how the different radio channels worked.
The second dispatcher I sat down with was primarily taking phone calls. Phones calls come in with only a few second warning. If you are on, a phone call can come in at any moment even if you are right in the middle of a tense situation on the radio with an officer.
Because of all the noise around me I was not able to clearly hear what was said on the radio channels. The dispatchers have trained themselves to hear lot of different sounds at once and distinguish them. This is certainly the ultimate multi-tasking job. They have to be in full attention and full energy mode their entire working shirt. It is a job I would not be suited for. I understand better how Dispatch is a vital part of the Unified Police Department.