What’s the most high pressure situation you’ve ever experienced? Could you relive it over and over in the same day- or for a career? That’s what Sedgwick County in Wichita, Kansas, employs 60 to 100 Emergency 911 Operators to do. Serving a population of 463,800, dispatchers take calls for every imaginable situation, and then route those calls to the correct department in seconds.
These are unique individuals, this is a very high-pressure, high-stress position. The volume of calls alone can be staggering. These are critical services with life-and-death circumstances.
Mike Mueller, Employment Manager, Sedgwick County
Sedgwick County Emergency 911 Operators receive calls from distressed people all over the community, whether it be for emergency rescue calls, police, fire, or ambulance. Every operator has two or three computer screens in front of them, a telephone, and foot switches to help route calls to the right place. Not everybody can handle that kind of intensity. Mike Mueller, Employment Manager, knows it takes a very special type of person to fill the job and do it well.
Sedgwick County administers a myriad of psychological profiles and tests to any potential new hire for the 911 Operator position. Mueller relies on the Wonderlic cognitive ability test to help identify people with an advanced ability to retain key information that could become critical in a high-stakes situation.
Learning the mountain of policies and procedures (and practicing them on the fly) means potential Sedgwick County emergency call dispatchers go through a 12-week training academy. The Wonderlic test helps Mueller determine how well his applicants will respond to training.
“Each department has different procedures, different things that need to be done in an emergency situation,” Mueller explains. “The dispatcher needs to know who to dispatch: police, fire, an ambulance- or all three.”
Mueller says that the Wonderlic test also gives him peace of mind, knowing that making the right hiring choices will save lives.
“The Training Director depends largely on the Wonderlic test to determine who is going to succeed and who isn’t. He looks seriously at it, relies heavily on it, and won’t recommend that we hire someone who doesn’t pass,” Mueller says. “It makes his job much, much easier.”