Dispatchers Experience High Levels of Stress Too
A dispatcher is trained to handle hundreds of calls a day. It’s not for everyone, but the right person can succeed in this high stress-level job. From non-emergencies to extreme emergencies, the dispatcher experiences high levels of stress on a daily basis. Emergency dispatchers can suffer from trauma and job fatigue as a result of their years of assisting officers and helping callers.
For civilians experiencing a traumatic experience, there’s a dispatcher who must subject themselves to the same trauma and pain. That stress is the price they pay for choosing a caring job as a first responder. Dispatchers encounter many over-the-phone situations including, but not limited to, domestic violence, murder, gunfire, robberies, and more. The hardest emotions for these first responders to experience are fear and helplessness.
Symptoms of stress can become physical. They include migraines, gastrointestinal distress, and nausea. Increased stress levels can also lead to being susceptible to illness, insomnia, or exhaustion. High stress levels can also lead to increased use of alcohol or drugs, or increased anger. If you know anyone experiencing these symptoms, refer them to their doctor immediately.
There is no downtime as a dispatcher. The best way to succeed in the field is to take deep breaths and keep going. Also recommended is to develop a relationship with other officers as to not feel alone in the job. There are three other important factors to being a successful dispatcher, and they all cater to their relation with police officers out on the field. They must:
- Anticipate their needs.
- Know when something is wrong.
- Develop trust.
Because dispatchers aren’t responding on the scene and witnessing trauma doesn’t mean they’re not coping with their own fears and stress. This type of stress can affect work performance, attendance, personal relationships, and other factors in their lives.
The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association would like to show their support for dispatchers and all first responders this holiday season and thank them for all they do.