The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has announced that on August 6 its Executive Board approved the Standard on 911 Acute/Traumatic and Chronic Stress Management. This Standard can make a career-changing difference for our nation’s Very First Responders–the frontline 911 telecommunicators because it assures strategic provision of support that is critical to wellbeing in the face of the incredible stress of their work. NENA’s website explains and provides a link to the full document version of this groundbreaking Standard:
“…provides for essential awareness of the serious risks posed by work-related stress on the mental and physical health of 9-1-1 emergency Telecommunicators/Dispatchers in their role as our first first responders. It establishes the “best practice” elements of local 9-1-1 comprehensive employee stress management programs and the expectation that such programs will be implemented by PSAPs.”
The Standard evidences the value placed on the person of the telecommunicator by NENA and by the many 911 stakeholders who worked together to develop it over these past three years as authors, contributors through public comment, and informally as encouragers. Such a document stating expectations for PSAPs to provide care to their people could just be another bureaucratic imposition falling heavy on our local 911 leaders from “on High”. But this Standard is different: it was developed with remarkable, widespread support from 911 stakeholders in all capacities, beginning with our local frontliners and their leaders, inspiration from our National 911 Program Administrator Laurie Flaherty, state 911 administrators, and by the work of the Work Group that included representatives from APCO International, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, university researchers pioneering 911 stress research, vendors, and members of our own 911WF Board of Directors.
In June, Dee Ann Summersett (Tuscola County 911, MI), the Foundation’s Vice-Chair and Co-Chair of the NENA Working Group on Stress, presented Safeguarding the Well-Being of the 9-1-1 Professional: A New Stress Standard & Great Solutions. This was the first official introduction of the Standard to the 911 industry. Dee Ann’s presentation was well received. It detailed to 911 personnel how the Standard will help to boost health, performance, and retention in our centers through resilience training, trauma treatment, peer support, CISM, and more!
The 911 Wellness Foundation (WF) was established in part to help advance this Standard and we will be offering support to NENA and our local 911 personnel to assure success in the work of building the Comprehensive Stress Management Programs (CSMP) it calls for. Click here to view the PDF of this presentation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Standard represents a solid foundation upon which so much more vital work must be done together by all 911 stakeholders. Far more education, research, policy and intervention will need to advance the cause of understanding the risks to health posed by 911 work and creating the solutions that will “safeguard” their well-being as the industry moves forward in its constant service to the public. 911WF is dedicated to coming along all 911 stakeholders to accomplish this mission, and we need your help.
Please consider what role you might take, whether volunteering on projects, as a member of our Council on Subject Matter Experts (CoSME), just informally offering ideas and input, or helping us seek much needed funding. Join us on this exciting and very rewarding journey! Everyone of us who benefits from calling 911 gains by investing in the Very First Responder. I welcome your email and invite you to offer your comments in response to this and any article on this blog. To view or download the PDF version of the Approved NENA Standard, click here.
Thanks much for taking time to join us, and be WELL!
Jim Marshall, 911WF Chair/CEO
Co-Chair, NENA Working Group on 911 Stress