Introduction: There are currently few stress management options provided to emergency dispatchers regarding the negative emotional, physical, and mental symptoms of stress that come with the job. Similarly, there is a lack of information about how these professionals experience this role and manage to cope with the challenges associated.
Objective: The objective of this study was to describe the sources of stress, coping mechanisms, stress responses, workplace environments, support services, and employer strategies to mitigate stress experienced by emergency dispatchers.
Methods: This was a descriptive, non-experimental study using an online survey tool (SurveyMonkey) to address the research questions that framed the study. The survey included open-ended items used for the collection data on the sources of stress, sources of support, and the lived experiences of 911 emergency dispatchers. The study utilized an inductive qualitative approach, consensual qualitative research, to analyze data within a multiple case study design. Data was collected in the Spring of 2020.
Results: The results of the cross analysis on research findings identified common domains across participants, including (a) types of stressful/traumatic calls, (b) responses to stressful/traumatic calls, and (c) workplace environment/support.
Conclusion: Implications address areas for ongoing discussion, including considerations and strategies to best promote mental health and wellbeing in the emergency dispatcher population. Our findings suggest further development, promotion, and utilization of employee assistance programs, peer to peer support networks, and critical incident stress management services may serve as a mechanism to enable emergency dispatchers and their organizations to better counteract job related stress and promote more positive mental health outcomes and workplace environments.
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