Emergency communications specialists, or dispatchers, work within an organization structured on a "military" model. They are part of a formal chain of command.
Trainees may have little choice on which days or shifts they must work, and may have their work schedules changed on short notice if necessary. All must report for duty as ordered in emergency situations such as severe weather or disasters, regardless of personal considerations.
Emergency communications specialists work in a secure, non-smoking facility. Dispatchers must schedule meals and any breaks away from the consoles as workload allows. Workload is varying and unpredictable, so uninterrupted breaks are not guaranteed.
Emergency communications specialists work in an often noisy and distracting environment, and must be able to concentrate on their jobs for extended periods of time while others are taking calls or walking around, and when unrelated conversations are taking place in close proximity.