As well as learning radio protocol, including special vocabulary and the phonetic alphabet, dispatcher training, unlike the usual rules for the airwaves that all radio operators and broadcasters must learn, must also focus on learning on job specific skills, including correctly relaying information so no content is lost, regulating networks of active personnel, vehicles or objects and insuring interoperability.
By necessity, radio messages must be short and simple, with easy to understand words and abbreviations, but the dispatcher is also tasked with passing information to different people who need to communicate but may be out of standard walkie-talkie range. If he or she does not perfectly record and repeat a perfect copy each time, with a focus on coherence, individual pieces of the instruction may be lost, changing the meaning completely between people. Good dispatcher training makes sure that students learn to listen and become perfect parrots.
Ruling the Network
Dispatchers could be keeping track of hundreds of different variables. In the animal kingdom, mass endeavours, whether by insect or mammal, can trust in scent or instinct, but humans need constant communication to avoid getting lost, off track or duplicating each other’s work. For example in transport operations training, a dispatcher will be co-ordinating a fleet of freight trucks, some or all of which will have time sensitive cargo. He or she will not only keep track of the location of all participants in the network, but also the status of their intended destinations and problems they might encounter on their journey, including traffic conditions and last minute changes to destination needs or cargo delivery schedules. For example modern manufacturing and retail sales often relies on a “just in time” system where needed parts and raw materials or products arrive only as needed, based on the destination’s immediate and evolving demands.
Much like how automotive technician training focuses on the generalities of cars instead of one specific make, model, brand or year, one of the jobs of the dispatcher is to use their dispatch console to link up different networks regardless of what vendor make have supplied the communications equipment. For example a dispatcher co-ordinating province wide firefighting efforts may have dozens of small municipalities to match up, with equipment that isn’t just manufactured by different brands but may be decades apart in age. Dispatcher training will prepare the student to use a switch board to work over top of what would otherwise be a large amount of closed networks, particularly essential in an emergency setting but also useful in general transport operations training, for example during a company merge or a situation where truck drivers are independent contractors who own their own vehicles and the dispatcher will need to use a mix of technical know-how with his or her dispatch console, and old fashioned dispatcher perfect repetition to let information pass through the network they are overseeing.