Introduction: The job of an emergency dispatcher is inherently stressful. As a 9-1-1 dispatcher, it is expected to receive a call for a multi-system trauma victim, a child drowning, an assault, amongst thousands of others, will be answered. These stressors are encountered multiple times per shift. While answering the call is controllable, the stressor on the other end is not.
Objective: To examine the relationships of emergency dispatchers’ home and work life, and present perceived control (how one focuses energy on what can be controlled in an uncontrollable situation) on secondary traumatic stress (STS), the effects of experiencing the trauma of others as a function of their job. Method: One hundred seventy-one 9-1-1 dispatchers completed a survey during the NAVIGATOR 2014 conference in Orlando, Florida, USA.
Results: The survey results revealed that focusing on how these calls impact the presence of stress at work and home did not, in turn, impact if someone had a high level of secondary traumatic stress. Regardless of whether or not someone has high or low levels of stress at work or at home, someone who has less present perceived control was more likely to have higher levels of STS.
Conclusion: While it is not possible to change the inherent stress associated with the job, the results of this study indicate that a primary intervention that addresses present perceived control may benefit not just those who are experiencing high levels of stress, but also those who are experiencing low levels of stress.