The newest intake of Department of Fire and Emergency
Services (DFES) triple zero operators are well equipped to handle life or death
phone calls thanks to a brand new intensive training course.
The gruelling six week program is designed to find the right
people suited to the fast paced and often highly emotional job of an emergency
Communications Systems Officer Michelle Hoskin, who works in
the Communications Centre (ComCen), was part of the recruitment team and says
they look for a special type of person.
“When you’re speaking on the phone to someone who is
distressed, angry or scared you need to have the ability to gain their trust,
keep them calm and issue instructions, and we’ve only got our voices to rely on
so that’s a huge skill,” she said.
“We were looking for applicants who could multi-task, be
empathic, work autonomously, be good at recalling details and handle stress
The triple zero operators are known as Communications System
Officers and they field triple zero calls and obtain vital information from
callers so they can despatch fire and emergency services crews and appliances
The recruitment process is evidence based and includes
behavioural testing, aptitude tests and team based exercises, as well as one-on-one
Previously the successful applicants proceeded to a three
week classroom based course but as of 2017 a new six week course was introduced
focussing on real life incidents in a simulated environment.
The first group graduated on November 24 then spent two
weeks shadowing other operators before taking calls while supervised.
One of those graduates, Edward Kros, said he was always
interested in working in emergency services and decided to apply after finishing
a commerce degree and postgraduate teaching degree.
“I like being able to help people and make a difference in
the community,” he said.
“You can have anything from a small mulch fire right up to
someone whose house is fully engulfed in flames and they’re very distraught,
screaming and crying, and it’s your job to reassure them there’s help on the
The second group of graduates completed their training on
December 29 and will begin working in the ComCen in coming weeks.