Aspiring Richmond 911 dispatchers take real calls while training


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Emergency Communications Department takes hundreds of 911 calls from around the city each day. On Wednesday, 8News got a behind the scenes look as trainees go through a 10-week academy to become 911 dispatchers.

The department takes more than 1,200 emergency calls every day and nearly 450,000 calls a year. The trainees remained cool, calm and collected while taking their first real emergency calls.

Emergency communications officers, more commonly known as 911 dispatchers, take calls and provide the appropriate resources whether it be Richmond police or fire.

“Whether it’s ranging from maybe a barking dog or abandoned vehicle to someone being seriously hurt, it could be life or death” said Ortoria Hymons, the training supervisor for the Richmond Emergency Communications Department.

Time could mean lives, which makes training so important. Twelve trainees are going through a 10-week dispatch academy, which consists of eight weeks of telephone and radio training and two weeks of on the job training.

There’s still that little bit of ‘oooo, I don’t know what I’m doing because you’re new,” said Jordan Christensen, who is in his fourth week of training. “Today I took my first call and it was not so bad.”

Trainees will soon be taking calls on their own as they graduate from the academy in November. Applications will be accepted again beginning in January for the next Basic Dispatch Academy. For more information, candidates can visit here, call 804-646-5911 or email

If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation where you can’t talk or it is not safe for you to talk, you can now text “911.


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