Fri, 10 January 2014
Today’s episode of Within the Trenches touches on the topic of stress and physical and mental issues in 9-1-1. As 9-1-1 dispatchers, we have heard it all. We have taken every call from the most ridiculous to the most horrific. If you’re like me, the calls that involve children are the ones that affect you most. I once took a call from a nine-year-old girl who had come home from school and found her mom passed out in the living room. She told me that her mom was not moving and her face was blue. I told her how to do CPR and she did it the best she could until help arrived. Although she did a great job her mom had already passed. She had had an overdose and died long before her daughter got home. I remember the little girl being scared but never lost it. Maybe it was the shock of the situation. Whatever it was, it’s a call I’ll never forget.
Towards the end of my dispatch career I began to feel burnt out. I enjoyed my job but the politics, long hours, workplace drama and stress began to eat at me. It’s something that people don’t understand unless you have done the job. The stress can be so great that some dispatchers have crashed and burned. How come no one, other than the dispatchers themselves, have noticed or addressed this? It’s something that wasn’t out there before but within the past year there have been numerous news articles covering the constant stress and physical and mental state of 9-1-1 dispatchers.
Whitney and I have done episodes in the past about CISM and EMDR but I wanted to do another one. In this episode I spoke with Michelle, assistant professor with Northern Illinois University who has been doing research on 9-1-1 dispatchers for the past few years concentrating on mental and physical health. There is a lot to learn in this episode. There was so much we could touch on that we are going to do a second episode to cover the rest. Michelle’s research is ongoing and if you would like to participate you can do so by clicking the link below. There is also a description. As always you can email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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