For Dispatchers, Is Organizational Stress The Worst Kind?

As a public safety telecommunications operator stress exists all around. But it’s not the external stress that’s the hardest to deal with. It’s the unseen management, too many bosses and co-workers with strong personalities.


When I was relieved it was super crazy at the supervisor’s pod and I didn’t have a chance to talk to her about the situation. In fact, I wasn’t able to talk to anyone about it until several days later when I met up with my supervisor who brought it up in supervision. By this time, the agency had pulled the tape and listening in the few seconds that had been marked, I heard it faintly. I now knew what I was listening for and it was definitely there. I felt awful. I hadn’t heard it. In the discussion I had with my supervisor, I asked her if she really thought I would just ignore the 906 if I had heard it. Did any of the supervisors feel I would? She said no. Then I asked why the other supervisor, after the fact, had yelled across the room at me like that. If it was after the danger had passed and there wasn’t any need for me to assist the officer and the situation just needed to be discussed with my supervisor, the only reason for the yelling would be to call me out in front of my co-workers. Needless to say, I was upset and felt resentful of the supervisor’s actions. It fueled the stress of feeling like there are too many chiefs in the radio room with different styles and different personalities trying to make all the rules and dole out the discipline.  

Pod Mates

Last, but certainly not least when it comes to organizational stress are those personalities who occupy the seats around us. I truly believe 9-1-1 and dispatch requires a certain type of person and often that person clashes with others who are the same way. Telecommunicators often are extroverted with strong personalities who have opinions on just about everything. We often believe we are always right and that things need to be done our way or no way. A room full of that can be downright scary. Radio rooms can be full of drama and crackle with tension when two employees are not getting along. This can be work related or even more frequently personal because what happens outside dispatch has filtered in. Opinions run rampant especially in regards to whether or not someone does their job and how well they do it. How the personalities in the room come together creates much of the stress that comes with doing the work.

Although screaming citizens and officers create a lot of stress for a 9-1-1/dispatcher, more often than not, most of the stress is internal. Unseen management, too many bosses and strong personalities around us makes the work even more difficult. Learning how to deal with the organizational stress, usually by letting go of those things we do not control and just doing our own job to the best of our ability can help ease the strain. Work off the inevitable stress in healthy ways such as exercise and meditation. Even with all the stress, it’s such a rewarding career.

 

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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.

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