Following up on the post about maps, I wanted to take a moment and speak to something that some new Dispatchers either don't do or are not told to do. Exploring the area they serve. The senior dispatchers who trained me in NYC could literally tell you what was on every corner in the borough of Brooklyn. When fire companies from other boroughs came to Brooklyn, they would ask for directions and always be provided the best possible route, whether they were responding to an incident or on a relocation. This was not only an impressive ability to have, it led to better results and reduced response times. This level of awareness and knowledge you just can't get from a GPS.
So how do you get this level of knowledge? Get out from behind the console and explore. Take a different way to work every day and a different way home. By the way, while you are out exploring, stop and visit the firehouses, the police stations or the EMS building. Bring a box of donuts or some coffee with you and take the time to ask questions, show some interest and learn about what goes on at the other end of the radio. Memorize your patrol districts, firehouse locations, and EMS response areas. Do you think it sounds cool when a member of the public calls, asks where the police station is, and you have to say hold on while I google it? What do they need us for in the first place then?
Make your visits productive. Ask what areas present unique challenges to responders. Are there areas that Police always enter cautiously; a building the Fire Department is extra concerned about; or retirement facility that only calls 9-1-1 when the resident is well past the point of CPR? How about areas that flood easily, causing access problems? Or places that are prone to brush fires? Whatever it is, you will likely not learn it (or understand it) from just sitting behind the console.
Dispatching is a profession, or so we like to believe. Well, being a professional means going the extra mile to gain more knowledge than might be required for the day to day, run of the mill shift. And that is perfectly okay. So take the time, take the drive, and maybe someday you too will know what is on every corner of your jurisdiction.