Visit our Facebook page…and a Striking Article from U.S. News and World Report: Dispatchers among the most underpaid

In his brief article The 10 Most Underpaid Jobs (3.21.13) Rick Newman identifies 911 dispatchers as among those professions whose salaries are not in accord with the service and value they contribute to society. I offer the link to the article below. I shared a post at the U.S.News site and encourage your Replies there. My emphasis in sharing this is not to focus on evaluating the question of fair compensation, but the primary issue the article points us to: the need to recognize the real levels of “Emotional Labor” dispatchers perform in the line of a duty so crucial to the well-being of our country’s infrastructure and our personal lives. Enjoy this link:

Why 911 Wellness Foundation has launched its own Facebook Page…

First a confession. I am not an avid Facebooker…yet. But that may change now that 911WF has its own page: I can see the enormous value of creating a living room of sorts in which 911 professionals and other 911 stakeholders come to enjoy conversation to inspire, learn, share humor, and to help advance our shared mission to foster the well-being of 911Pros in the face of ever-increasing stress at the console. Articles like Rick Newman’s also become fresh food we can sit at the table to digest, deepening and extending our essential dialog supporting the Foundation’s efforts. A special thanks to our FB Administrator,–911 Professional Tracey Geary!

Hope you will join us!

Jim Marshall


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6 Responses to Visit our Facebook page…and a Striking Article from U.S. News and World Report: Dispatchers among the most underpaid

  1. I agree that dispatchers are underpaid and it is terrible. With the amount of stress everyday and the emotional roller coaster ride, they should be getting paid much more. Dispatchers are very important and the pay does not reflect that and its sad.

    • 911wellness says:

      Thanks much for your comment re: dispatcher pay. In many markets it is likely true that our 911Pros are underpaid relative to the mental and emotional demands of this work. This is largely due to the lag in knowledge on the part of the public and local government regarding the real psychological complexity and level of skill required to do 911 work. Of course the Foundation’s focus is not financial equity issues, though we know that being properly compensated is certainly part of morale boosting and keeping good folks on board so the rest of our 911 teams are not overwhelmed leading to even more stress. My belief is that the 911 industry– from local leaders to national program officials–is largely represented by devoted and concerned professionals who are open to learning more about the demands placed on our frontline 911Pros and doing all they can to support them. As I have said elsewhere, the 911 Wellness Foundation is not the only concerned organization. We are late to the party but devoted to creating a forum for gathering, articulating and advancing these long-held concerns of many 911 stakeholders regarding the well-being of 911Pros, and to creating systematic, long term change and improvements. Pay and conditions have improved significantly for many 911 centers across America. And as we learn more together about the actual psychological complexity and toll of this 911 work I am confident that even more improvements in work conditions and compensation will be supported by all sectors within and beyond the industry. Thanks again for your comment.

  2. Brandon says:

    Hi Jim, my name is Brandon Martin and after reading the article i can agree that 39,000$ year is to low of a salary for a call dipatcher. The emotional and psychological trauma a call taker suffers in a day let alone a year deserves better compensation that the figure reported.

  3. Nicolette says:

    I think that that is extremely low for a dispatcher, especially when they are required to do so many jobs. On top of the emotional stress they endure on a daily basis.

    • 911wellness says:

      Hi Nicolette,
      Thanks for commenting. If you mean “low” as in salaries are in some PSAPs lower than they should be given what 911Pros do I would completely agree. If you meant “low” in terms of “pretty lousy” of 911 leaders to underpay their people, let me suggest this: many leaders would very much like to pay their folks more, yet their hands are tied by the current funding mechanisms and because so much more needs to be done to inform all 911 stakeholders re: how psychologically demanding this job is, and how difficult it is to find people capable of doing it (both in terms of skills and resilience). The more we recognize these factors the better the chances of being compensated appropriately. Yet, work like Project Retains by APCO has informed the industry. The entire 911 funding process is being reviewed and will require overhauling to support NG911 and our 911 professionals as we pursue Next Generation 911. The Foundation’s hope is that as we are constructive and informed, joining with the many leaders in the industry who truly respect and support our frontline telecommunicators, we will continue to improve recognition of the vital role the telecommunicator plays. One positive outcome of this will hopefully be increasing compensation for those who are underpaid. Thanks again for your comment!

  4. Sheri says:

    I am a Criminal Justice student in Michigan. I am going the route of dispatch while continuing my bachelors degree, although, after considering the pay rate and knowing what ETC’s have to go through, what they have to give up, and the stress and emotional rollercoasters they are on at work, I don’t know if I will want to stay in that position forever. They should be paid a fair amount along with all other criminal justice professionals for the work they do and what they put on the line to do so. Calltakers, dispatchers, and their supervisors are right there on the line with officers, firefighters, and paramedics; mentally and emotionally. They have a lot to lose by making any mistakes, and are constantly ridiculed by people who expected certain treatments when calling, such as you solving all of their issues over the phone and being a miracle worker when they are not even calling for a real emergency. 911 operators are also underappreciated and very rarely acknowledged for the help that they provide.

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