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Emergency Medical Dispatcher Education Requirements and Career Info

Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) answer emergency medical calls and are trained to assess the situation, instruct the caller in basic lifesaving procedures and prioritize medical response personnel. Certification and education requirements for EMDs vary by state, but specialized training is necessary.

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Emergency Medical Dispatcher Education Requirements

To work as an emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) or a 911 operator, a student must complete training that meets the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Students can find such programs at community colleges, vocational schools and private training academies. Graduates of an EMD training program are eligible to sit for the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) certification exam.

Coursework

An EMD training program typically takes two or three semesters to complete. EMD courses teach students how to obtain information from agitated callers, give the caller medical instructions before the units arrive, read guide cards, prioritize response personnel and manage stress. Students also learn about national and state regulations for EMDs, anatomy, physiology and ethical and legal issues for EMDs.

They learn how to send the correct number and type of units to an emergency and how to use a system of priority dispatch, which may consist of computers, telephone system (multi-line) and two-way radios. Many EMD programs either include CPR training or require it as a prerequisite.

Continuing Education

To maintain certification, the NAED requires EMDs to complete 24 hours of continuing education training every two years. In addition, NAED offers advanced EMD training through local 3-day seminars

Career Info

EMDs work irregular hours in call center-type settings. They may work for the highway patrol in their state, ambulance services or emergency medical services.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median wage of EMDs was $34,790 annually in 2009. Payscale.com states that median salary for an EMD was about $51,394 per year (as of June 2010), but is dependent on location, experience and employer. EMDs find career advancement through extended training to become EMD managers, instructors and systems analysts.

According to the NAED-approved course materials, stress levels for EMDs are extremely high. Recognizing and managing stress is a priority for EMDs.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics