Although this research demonstrates scientific consequences to chronic stress, all it takes is a look around a dispatch center to see people aged beyond their years. The amount of time required for young hires to get to retirement (I also wonder how lack of maturity in addition to chronic stress adds to aging) or the advanced age needed to reach retirement for older hires to meet the Rule of 80 is a huge concern for public safety telecommunications operators. I believe it’s a safety issue for the officers in the field and citizens. I believe these first first responders should have retirement plans similar to officers, such as 20 or 25 and out. It makes more sense. After all, if a budget analyst falls asleep at his desk, it’s really not that big of a deal. Paperwork is not going to be harmed. If a dispatcher falls asleep or can’t hear or can’t see well, it is a big deal. People could get hurt. People could die. Granted some people deal with stress better than others and the neurobiological research has shown that a person’s coping ability affects positively the shortening of telomeres. In essence, the stress of the job doesn’t age them faster. In my experience, it seems to be about half and half with those that cope and age well and those that fall asleep at the console.
On a lighter note, maybe, no one wants to sit through ten hours listening to a grating, scratchy, been smoking for 30 years voice telling them where to go at a rate that seems better suited to a shuffle board deck than a dispatch floor. That alone is worth fighting for the option of a 20 year retirement.
About The Author:
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000. Her credits include Law Enforcement Technology, Police, Law and Order, Police Times, Beyond the Badge, Michigan State Trooper, Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and Chief of Police. She writes two columns a month for Officer.com. Michelle worked for the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. Currently, Michelle works as the Administrative Coordinator at Jasper Mountain a residential psychiatric facility for children. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fundraising coordinator for the Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue, playing her bass, working on her young adult novel Desert Ice and raising her two sons in a small town in Oregon.