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Setting the Tone



In moments of crisis when every second counts, the first point of contact with emergency services can significantly influence the outcome of the situation. Emergency dispatchers serve as the vital link between individuals in distress and the assistance they urgently require. Beyond merely relaying information, these unsung heroes possess the power to shape the entire trajectory of an emergency call through their tone, demeanor, and empathy. They are the front door of emergency services, and their impact extends far beyond the initial interaction.


Imagine a frantic caller, their heart racing, their voice trembling as they describe the unfolding emergency. In such moments, the dispatcher's voice becomes more than just words—it becomes a lifeline. A calm, reassuring voice on the other end of the phone can instill a sense of confidence and stability amidst the chaos. It communicates to the caller that help is on the way and that they are not alone in facing the crisis. Conversely, a harsh or impatient tone can exacerbate the caller's distress, adding unnecessary tension to an already stressful situation.


It is crucial for dispatchers to recognize the immense power they hold and wield it with care and compassion. Their impact extends beyond the caller to the entire emergency response team. A well-managed call can set the stage for a smoother operation and help first responders to approach the situation with clarity and focus. Additionally, when dispatchers relay pertinent information calmly, accurately, and efficiently, they promote a sense of competency and professionalism, which can give responders the confidence to walk into the unknown.


By recognizing and harnessing the immense power of their interactions, dispatchers can make a tangible difference in the lives of those they serve while supporting the effective operations of emergency services.




Police Legal Sciences provides hour long online lessons in which the lesson taker hears a real 9-1-1 dispatcher process a call for service. Hearing the successes and failures of other dispatchers handling real emergencies can help dispatchers develop useful tools and techniques, as well as understand the necessity of proper voice control. To request a demo of our lessons, please click on the “Contact Us” link to request a free trial.





byJon Stueve ORCEM


Jon Stueve is an emergency communications professional with over 30 years of experience in public safety.  He holds an Advanced Telecommunications and Supervisor certificates through the State of Oregon, as well as the Continuity of Operations Practitioner (COOP) and the Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) certifications through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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