9-1-1 Overview

9-1-1 imageThe Department of Emergency Management Public Safety Dispatchers are San Francisco’s first, first responders. They are the people who answer calls made to 9-1-1 for emergency assistance. These professionals dispatch Police, Fire, and ambulance to the scene of accidents, crimes, fires and other emergency and non-emergency situations. Dispatchers act as the communications hub for emergency services and must quickly assess situations and send appropriate help.

Call Evaluation

When you call 9-1-1 a public safety dispatcher, also known as a call taker, evaluates your call and determines what type of response is required. They enter your call information into the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system for first responder deployment. Click here for the 5 Things You Should Share with a Dispatcher. In addition to evaluating your situation the call taker can also provide medical instruction, such as CPR, before help arrives.


Another public safety dispatcher, also known as a radio dispatcher, communicates to first responders in the field. The radio dispatcher coordinates the response of first responders and maintains status of all units. For law enforcement situations this includes deploying more police if needed. In the event of medical or fire response, this includes making sure the right type of resources and equipment is on the scene.

Custodian of Records and Sunshine Compliance

The Custodian of Records unit is responsible for supplying official records to authorized requestors including:

  • Police Department
  • Fire Department
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Public Defender
  • District Attorney
  • City Attorney
  • Members of the Public

Records include audio recordings from the public safety radio system, 9-1-1 calls, video recordings from the community safety camera system, as well as, computer aided dispatch are records and other written records.

To learn more about public records requests go to: Policy for release of public records (PDF)

To request public records go to: Request 9-1-1 records (PDF)


Beginning with the Academy and continuing through out their career dispatchers receive extensive training to maintain their professional skills. Dispatchers receive up to one year of specialized training and are certified by the California State Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST). All dispatchers are trained and qualified to provide live-saving pre-arrival telephone instructions before help arrives and are certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

Interested in being a public safety dispatcher? Click here to search job opportunities at the Department of Emergency Management.

Becoming a Dispatcher: Human Resources Hiring Documents 

Personal History Statement

Pre-Background Investigation Required Documents