Years ago, when I worked in a 911 center, I don’t ever remember hearing the terms “vicarious trauma,” or “compassion fatigue.”
Occasionally “burnout” was mentioned to describe how we felt after long stretches of intense work; although it mostly expressed
years of exhaustion and time spent in the emergency dispatch center. Not much attention was given to the day-to-day stress and
mental trauma that was happening along the way.
Occupational Identity is a term used to describe how a person sees themself as a worker. Researchers have studied how one’s identity at work affects not only one’s occupational success, but their attitudes, experiences, and emotions both inside and outside of the workplace. Our featured research article in this issue, written by Violet (Lisa) Rymshaw, PsyD, provides valuable insights on occupational identity among emergency dispatchers—a profession that is sometimes given short shrift within the realm of emergency services occupations.
There can be several barriers to performing effective CPR on patients who call 911 service for help. One of the most challenging barriers is repositioning a patient found by the caller in a prone position i.e., on his/her belly. Existing medical dispatch pre-arrival instructions (on Medical Priority Dispatch System [MPDS®] Protocols Panel C2) provide no specific scripted instructions for repositioning the patient from prone to supine.
The ‘Great Resignation,’ as it has been dubbed by many, did not spare emergency dispatch agencies. Indeed, emergency service agencies, including dispatch centers, may have been impacted even worse than most other employers. This is particularly unwelcome news, given the already long-standing staffing and recruiting difficulties in the profession. This phenomenon of employees leaving their jobs in large numbers appears to have started sometime after COVID-19 swept across the world in 2020. Several factors, including fear of being exposed to COVID, opportunities to work from home at a new job, and poor pa
The speedy spread of the global outbreak of COVID-19 called for rapid deployment of tools to monitor its trends. In January 2020, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED) released an official statement about the novel coronavirus with specific guidelines for our Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS)-user agencies to use the Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance (EIDS) Tool for Sick Person (Protocol 26), Breathing Problems (Protocol 6), and other Chief Complaints where the caller offers information leading the emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) to suspect a respiratory-type illness.
Research has showed that heart attacks present clinically with varying symptoms; and those symptoms are not always described by patients as chest pain or chest discomfort. Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) using the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS™) are trained to select the Chest Pain/Chest Discomfort Protocol for non-chest pain heart attack symptoms or classic heart attack complaint of chest pain/chest discomfort. Nevertheless, it is still unknown how often callers report heart attack symptoms other than chest pain/chest discomfort, including what specific words/phrases they use to describe
The difficulty of evaluating the mental status, particularly alertness, is more pronounced in the medical dispatch context, where the Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) must work through the eyes and ears of the caller, who is most likely a layperson. Determining true non-alertness and the level of its effects on outcome needs to be solved to perfect the interrogation and response-coding processes at dispatch.
2022 is beginning to shape up as a year of opportunity for us in the public safety and public health professions. As COVID-19 transforms from a pandemic to an endemic disease, emergency services should get a much-needed moment to reset and recharge. Indeed, we can use this well-deserved breather to focus on areas needing improvement in our field. One such area is how we manage responses to 911 medical calls for help. For many years, researchers and analysts have documented the need to reduce lights and siren response to medical calls for emergency assistance, warning of an overreliance on these ‘hot’ re
This issue of AEDR contains two very intriguing studies that, on the surface, seem completely unconnected. Yet many important issues in emergency dispatch are interdependent when one chooses to look a little closer. One study, conducted with the participation of focus groups representing some of Utah’s diverse communities, tells us how members of those communities make their decisions to call 911, why they may not call even when true emergencies present to them, and what factors most influence their decision-making to call or not to call, including a finding that we may not always be delivering the righ
What’s next for the First, First Responder? Since that term was first coined decades ago by Dr. Jeff Clawson in the nascent years of emergency medical dispatch development, much has changed. One of the biggest changes is the expanded role of the emergency telecommunicator in general—not simply the role of the emergency medical dispatcher (EMD), who was the subject of the earliest efforts to professionalize emergency telecommunicators with formal training and continuing education...