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Dispatchers are communications personnel responsible for receiving and transmitting pure and reliable messages, tracking vehicles and equipment, and recording other important information.[1] A number of organizations, including police and fire departments, emergency medical services, motorcycle couriers, taxicab providers, trucking companies, railroads, and public utility companies, use dispatchers to relay information and coordinate their operations. Essentially, the dispatcher is the "conductor" of the force, and is responsible for the direction of all units within it.[2]

Types of dispatchers[edit]

Public Safety Telecommunicator[edit]

1994–97: Formation and Fush Yu Mang[edit] Smash Mouth was formed in 1994 by Steve Harwell, who had formerly played in a rap group called F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech), and his manager. Harwell's manager, Kevin Coleman, knew guitarist Greg Camp and bassist Paul De Lisle, who had both played in a local punk band, and introduced the three musicians to each other. They began rehearsing together, along with Kevin Coleman as drummer. They soon developed into a band, and named themselves Smashmouth, a football term. During their early years, the band played largely rock music.

The band's first publicity came when a demo of the song "Nervous in the Alley" was played by a San Jose radio station, KOME. Soon after, Interscope Records signed the band, and the group's debut album, Fush Yu Mang, was released in 1997, featuring another member: the keyboardist Michael Klooster. Also, upon signing to Interscope Records, the band changed their name from Smashmouth to Smash Mouth. The album eventually went double platinum led by the band's first major single "Walkin' on the Sun". The singles "The Fonz" and a cover of "Why Can't We Be Friends" were also subsequently released.

1998–2005: Rise to fame, Astro Lounge, Smash Mouth, and Get the Picture?[edit] The band's second album, Astro Lounge, was released in 1999 and marked a change in direction, as it had less of the previous ska influence and more of a pop sound. It led to more publicity for the band, and ended up being one of the most critically acclaimed albums from the group. Supported by the hit singles "All Star" (which was featured in several film soundtracks, most famously the film Shrek) and "Then the Morning Comes", Astro Lounge was eventually certified as triple platinum.

Also in 1999, The East Bay Sessions was released as a collection of early songs. Shortly after the release of the album, drummer Kevin Coleman left the band due to back problems. He was initially replaced by Michael Urbano, who was quickly replaced by Mitch Marine for the tour supporting Astro Lounge, who was subsequently replaced by Michael Urbano at the conclusion of the tour.[2]

In 2001, Smash Mouth covered the Monkees' hit song "I'm a Believer".[3] It was featured on both the soundtrack for the film Shrek (along with "All Star") and their self-titled album.[2] The album sold fewer copies than the band's earlier works, eventually being certified gold. Also in 2001, the group appeared as themselves in the climactic scene of the film Rat Race.

In 2003, Get the Picture? was released, featuring the singles "You Are My Number One", "Hang On" and "Always Gets Her Way". Smash Mouth was dropped from Interscope shortly after the release of Get the Picture?. That same year, the band performed a cover of the Sherman Brothers song "I Wanna Be Like You" for the animated film The Jungle Book 2.

2005–11: New label, fluctuating lineup, Summer Girl, and Magic[edit] Following the band's signing to Universal Records, Smash Mouth released the greatest hits compilation All Star Smash Hits in 2005. The album contains some more popular songs from previous Smash Mouth albums, as well as songs from soundtrack albums which were not on the band's own releases. On certain networks and time slots, the album was advertised as having 18 tracks, including an edited version of "Flo" and "Beer Goggles". Smash Mouth played at Gumby's Birthday Celebration in August 2005.

In December 2005, the band released a Christmas album Gift of Rock. It featured covers of Christmas songs by many artists, such as the Kinks and the Ramones, and one original song, "Baggage Claim".

Smash Mouth's fifth studio album, originally to be titled Old Habits, was recorded in 2005 and expected to be released in early 2006. The band had said that the album was much more like the ska punk featured on Fush Yu Mang and The East Bay Sessions. In September 2005, the band performed what was tentatively going to be the album's first single, "Getaway Car", on Last Call with Carson Daly. The album was delayed many times, in the hope of gaining publicity with Harwell's appearance on the reality show The Surreal Life. Smash Mouth returned to the studio intent on improving the record.[4] Old Habits was shelved, replaced by Summer Girl, which included some remixed Old Habits tracks as well as new songs. After being delayed in much the same way Old Habits was for several months, the album was released on September 19, 2006. Smash Mouth let Sony Pictures use much of their music from Summer Girl and other songs for the movie Zoom, whose opening titles credit the film's music to the band.

Before the release of Summer Girl, drummer Michael Urbano left the band without warning on February 14, 2006 due to creative differences. He was initially replaced by former drummer Mitch Marine, and then by Jason Sutter, best known for his work with American Hi-Fi and the Rembrandts. The band released their new album, Summer Girl, later that year. In early 2007, one year after joining the band, Sutter left Smash Mouth to play drums for former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell; fill-in drummer Marine returned to Smash Mouth.

Greg Camp left the band in the summer of 2008. Smash Mouth recruited Leroy Miller to play guitar. Leroy left in 2009 and Camp returned to the band, but in 2011 Camp left once again and this time the band recruited Sean Hurwitz. Hurwitz stayed until 2012, and was replaced by Mike Krompass. Later in 2012, Hurwitz returned. In 2009 Mitch Marine left once again and was replaced by Urbano, who left again after only one year in 2010, and was replaced by Marine once again. Marine left yet again after a brief spell in 2010 and was replaced by Randy Cooke. Cooke was briefly replaced by Jason Sutter in 2011, then Charlie Paxson.

In June 2011, a writer at Something Awful offered $20 if the band's lead singer, Steve Harwell, would eat 24 eggs.[5] Others on the site and on Twitter began offering additional sums, eventually targeted to various charities. In July 2011, Harwell accepted the challenge if fans could gather pledges of $10,000 for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.[6][7][8] The fundraising goal was reached in less than a week's time.[9] A self-styled "reality TV fan," Harwell requested that his friend celebrity chef Guy Fieri prepare the eggs.[10] The event was held at Johnny Garlic's restaurant, in Dublin, California on October 11, 2011. With about 150 people attending, Harwell was able to finish the eggs with the help of audience members as well as the San Jose Sharks mascot, Sharkie. $15,000 was raised for charity.[11]

2012–present: Magic and live album[edit] After parting ways with Universal Records and signing with 429 Records, Smash Mouth released their sixth studio album titled Magic, on September 4, 2012. The album was primarily produced by new band member Mike Krompass. The first single, also entitled "Magic", debuted on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at No. 22.[12] The band spent the rest of 2012 touring behind the new project as well as promoting the release of their musical book of food recipes and things of the like — Recipes from the Road.[13] Cooke left permanently toward the end of 2012, replaced by Paxson. Paxson left in July 2013 during the Under the Sun tour, and was initially going to be replaced by a returning Cooke; however, he was replaced by Sutter once again. Tod Burr, former drum tech of Def Leppard and drummer of Merle Jagger, came on board in 2012 as drum and keyboard tech of Smash Mouth.

On February 1, 2013, Smash Mouth headlined[14] the AutoNation Coast to Coast rebranding event (which combined all AutoNation dealerships into a single brand) at Wayne Huizenga Park in Fort Lauderdale, FL with Michela Paige from Season 3 of The Voice. The event also served as a final round in the AutoNation Culture of Caring Contest.

In May 2016, Smash Mouth released their first live album titled Playlist: The Very Best of Smash Mouth through Sony Music. The recordings were harvested from shows in Rapid City, South Dakota and Manila.[15]

On June 14, 2015, Smash Mouth was playing a set at the Taste of Fort Collins food festival in Fort Collins, Colorado, when Steve Harwell broke from his set and went into an angry three-minute, expletive-laden tirade, threatening to beat the audience members responsible for hitting him with bread. The band played the opening chords of "All Star" throughout a significant portion of Harwell's rant. The incident was covered by major media outlets, including TMZ, Gawker, and USA Today.[16][17][18][19][20] Harwell later apologized for the incident in an interview with The Herald-Mail.[21] Event organizer Jason Ornstein explained that he asked Harwell if he wanted him to have the DJs make an announcement instructing the crowd not to throw bread but according to Ornstein, Harwell "stormed on [stage] and took matters into his own hands." He continued "It wasn't like anyone was going to be getting hurt by throwing bread up in the air ... We just had to laugh at it, because he just really made a fool of himself."[22]

An acoustic re-recording of Smash Mouth's first album, Fush Yu Mang, is set to be released in 2017 through PledgeMusic for the album's 20th anniversary.[23]

Band members[edit]

Railroad dispatchers[edit]

A train dispatcher is employed by a railroad to direct and facilitate the movement of trains over an assigned territory, which is usually part, or all, of a railroad operating division. In Canada the train dispatcher is known as the rail traffic controller (RTC). In New Zealand and Australia they are known as Train Controllers. The dispatcher is also responsible for cost effective movement of trains and other on-track railroad equipment to optimize physical (trains) and human resource (crews) assets.[3]

Penn Central Southern Region (Columbus Division) Crew Dispatcher John Patterson is in his office at Hilliard Yard, Ohio keeping track of train crew assignments for the 60 crews a day passing thru this relief point.

Train dispatchers are required to be intimately familiar with the physical characteristics of the railroad territory for which they are responsible, as well as the operating capabilities of the locomotive power being used. An efficient train dispatcher may use the rule book, timetable, train orders, and knowledge of track conditions to move a large number of trains safely over the assigned territory with minimal delay to any train, even in single-track territory.

A crew dispatcher is also employed by the railroad to keep track of train crews and their assignments. The crew dispatcher is responsible for assigning train crew to trains, based on a crew book that shows scheduled rosters but also making real-time adjustments as necessary based on rail traffic conditions and delays. The crew dispatcher is normally assisted by a crew caller whose responsibility is to telephone the train and engine crews to advise them of time to report for duty. The crew dispatcher is also responsible for checking that each train and engine crew are properly qualified for their assignments and have had proper rest pursuant to relevant hours-of-service regulations. :3

Airline or flight dispatchers[edit]

A flight dispatcher (also known as a flight operations officer) assists in planning flight paths, taking into account wind speed, storms, aircraft performance and loading, and other conditions. Some dispatchers provide a flight following service and advise pilots if conditions or paths change. They usually work in the operations or control center of the airline. In the United States and Canada, the flight dispatcher shares legal responsibility with the Commander (joint responsibility dispatch system).

Working conditions and environment[edit]

Dispatchers are responsible for monitoring all of the communications within a specific geographic area. Public safety dispatchers are responsible for all emergency communications that occur within the jurisdiction of their department. These workers receive and document incoming calls, transmit messages to appropriate personnel, and keep logs of the daily activities of their personnel. Public safety dispatchers usually work in a police station, a fire station, or a hospital.[4] Other dispatchers work in centralized communication centers associated with their specific company or service.

All types of dispatchers work with telephones, radios, ACARS, and computers on a routine basis. They also monitor traffic patterns or other outside activity via video surveillance. As a result of sitting for long periods and using such equipment, dispatchers can develop eye strain and back problems. Many dispatchers must also work irregular hours to provide 24-hour service, which includes night, weekend, and holiday hours.[4]

Public safety dispatchers are usually the first point of contact between emergency services and the public. When receiving incoming calls for help, these dispatchers must ascertain the nature, location, and extent of the emergency. The working conditions of a public safety dispatcher may be particularly stressful compared to others because handling a call in an inappropriate manner may delay or misdirect other emergency personnel, which could result in serious injury or even death.[4] A dispatcher error in a San Juan County, New Mexico vehicle crash, for example, may have cost lives in May 2006. The dispatcher in San Juan County was criticized for not using GPS tracking to locate a van that crashed with six people inside. The dispatcher received eleven calls from the trapped crash victims. By the time rescuers located the van four hours later, all six people were dead.[5] Callers requesting emergency assistance are often in a state of heightened emotional distress, which makes it difficult to obtain the information needed to handle the call appropriately. In the San Juan County incident, the crash victims did not know where they were.[5]

Human error can also produce deadly results for other types of dispatchers. A train dispatcher in Spain was found guilty of negligent homicide for a head-on train collision that occurred in June 2003.[6] Nineteen people died and forty-eight were injured in a crash where the dispatcher allowed a passenger train to leave a station when a freight train was approaching the station on the same line.[6]

Like very similar controlling jobs, such as air traffic controllers, dispatcher positions can be notoriously stressful and full of non-stop work.

Training and employment[edit]

Employment as a dispatcher does not usually require a level of education higher than a high school diploma, but many that work in the field hold liberal arts degrees. Employers prefer candidates with computer and clerical skills, communication skills, and the ability to work fast under pressure.[4]

Candidates for employment as public safety dispatchers may be required to pass written, oral, or performance tests and are governed by state or local regulations. Public safety dispatchers may also have to obtain certifications and attend additional training before or after they are employed by state or local governments to dispatch for police, fire, or emergency medical services. The level of training required for these dispatchers is typically the most extensive in comparison to other dispatch positions.[4]

A standard certification requirement for public safety dispatchers is Terminal Operator certification for access to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database system. Access to this database system often allows additional access to the state-level system comparable to NCIC which allows public safety dispatchers to access motor vehicle registration and drivers license information as well as wants or warrants by various law enforcement agencies both statewide and national.

In addition to certifications, specialized training is also required or appropriated to public safety dispatchers. As public safety dispatchers are the first contact made between the public and emergency services, public safety dispatchers need to be able to extract a vast array of information out of the caller. Such specialized training for 911 dispatchers can include: suicide intervention, hostage negotiation, bomb threats, tactical dispatching (for SWAT teams), domestic violence and domestic and foreign terrorism countermeasures. Many are also trained as Emergency Medical Dispatchers, able to give first aid instructions to victims or families prior to EMS arrival.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 266,000 people were employed as dispatchers in 2004.[4] Employment for dispatcher is projected to grow as fast as the average (an increase of 9 to 17 percent) through the year 2014. In addition, it is expected that a number of current dispatchers will either transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force, which will result in an increase of openings.[4]


The primary tool of the dispatcher is the dispatch console. A dispatch console is a system that interfaces to a private or public radio system, allowing the dispatcher to communicate directly with all field workers, police officers, EMS personnel, and others in order to coordinate their activities. Dispatchers use various hardware and software to create dispatch.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grier, Robin. "Dispatch". Dispatch Solutions. Catalyst Communications Technologies, Inc. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Grier, Robin. "What are Dispatch and Interoperability?". Catalyst. Catalyst CommunicationsTechnologies. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Career Choices - Rail Traffic Controller". irtcanada.net. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g www.bls.gov Occupational Outlook Handbook 2006-07 Edition. URL accessed on April 6, 2006
  5. ^ a b "Dispatcher error may have cost lives". KRQE News 13 - Dispatcher error may have cost lives. Retrieved 2006-06-07. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Train dispatcher sentenced to two years for negligent homicide". Train dispatcher sentenced to two years for negligent homicide. Retrieved 2006-06-07. 

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