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Have you ever wondered what it must be like to live the life of the frontline 911 dispatcher handling one emergency call after the next: imagine you’re the one at the “console” tracking info on five monitors, interacting via radio and headset with field responders, and with the hysterical mother. You listen as she sobs and you guide her in administering CPR to her breathless infant while also sending directions to paramedics even though you already know in your gut this one isn’t gonna make it!–all this just after you handled a call from a suicidal teenager who said “good bye–I’m done” and hung up before you could help, and left your heart hanging out of your chest!
How would you feel sitting at that console? Would you want that job? Could you DO that job?
This blog and the Foundation are devoted to serving the first First Responders in our emergency response system–the 911 dispatcher. I’m thrilled you’ve found us because we need you!
Whether you know it or not, you are a “911 Stakeholder”— someone who has a vested interest in our nation’s 911 emergency services. You’ve chose the right time to visit our blog since yesterday, December 1 ,2011 our country officially launched itself on a journey, called Next Generation 911. To read more click here.) “NG911” will change how you experience emergency help when you call 911 by enabling you to “call” 911 via texting, real time video (e.g, skype, smart phone) and other “evolving technologies”.
NG911 will be great for you, the consumer–especially if your are hearing impaired, or find yourself in a crisis in which rich, timely information about the scene and those present is vital to rescue and medical help. And since these NG911 capabilities should boost dispatcher’s ability to assist in emergencies they too will hopefully feel more empowered as the chances for successful interventions increases–and that could mean less stress! For example, if the dispatcher can observe you adminstering CPR to your child, they can correct and guide you more precisely per the instructions. That’s certainly a good thing.
On the other hand, if we are to face the research on stress, we must also do our “due diligence” and face the possibility that NG911 will add MORE stress to the shoulders of our 911 dispatchers. Why/How? (Okay, again imaginine yourself back at the console with that mother again.) Because you’ll not only hear the screaming, you’ll SEE the panicking mother and her lifeless blue baby–on the big monitor in the middle of your console via real time video from her smart phone or iPad.
This blog, 911 Wellness was created to join all 911 stakeholders in gaining awareness about the enormous health risks placed on dispatchers in the line of duty related to the immense psychological stress of their work–and how NG911 may, along with its benefits, increase stress and these risks for 911 telecommunicators unless we launch this new platform with great care.
911 dispatchers (a.k.a. Public Safety Telecommunicators or PSTs) have long been underrated in a few big ways: in terms of the critical importance of the role they play in helping save all our lives when we call 911 in peril; in the intelligence, skill, and emotional strength their job demands; and, in psychological and physical toll emergency dispatching takes from the PST as a human being. Fortunately leaders within the industry and the mental health field are growing increasingly aware of how greatly we have underestimated dispatchers, and the high risk this places them at for stress-related diseases…
Afterall, if we dump more on our first first responders and this hard-t0-find/hard to train/hard to keep workforce burns out, who is going to answer your next call to 911–and how well will they do at helping save some you love?
So, this blog is for all of us–911 stakeholders–to gain the shared awareness we need about 911 stress and to help us direct our concern and skills into concerted efforts to fulfill the Foundation’s mission.
But specifically who are 911 stakeholders? Well, first is the citizen who depends on 911 for help in life’s most threatening moments; stakeholders also include all those who help bring these emergency services to the public–the 911 employees who operate our Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs, or 911 centers), along with the government leaders who regulate and oversee 911, the national associations who set 911 standards for PSAP operations and professoinal development, and the “vendors” who supply the 911 industry with the technology and training that enable the efficient, effective help we’ve come to expect when we dial 9-1-1.
So now you know: you’re a 911 stakeholder. The question is: will you join us in supporting our PSAPs to keep our incredibly talented 911 dispatchers healthy so that they can continue taking amazing care of the rest of us–the public and our field responders as we enter the Next Generation of 911 sevices?
Tell us what you think with your comments! And we hope you’ll explore the rest of this blog and consider becoming a member of the foundation. Your email is also welcomed!Info@911Wellness.com.