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 right services for these communities when their members are most in need of help. These findings are timely and important, given the nationwide effort already underway to examine the role of law enforcement response—and what 911 can do to help facilitate less aggressive response and assistance from services such as mental health and social services, particularly to respond to and manage situations that don’t involve violence, robbery, traffic problems, or serious crimes. Likewise, EMS and the fire service are also a part of that discussion. The findings of this issue’s ‘911 Attitudes’ study will help us understand how persons in certain diverse communities perceive emergency services available via 911, helping us to shine a light on potential system shortcomings and provide the information needed to make improvements.
Another study continues this journal’s exploration of the wellbeing of the emergency dispatcher in the workplace. Not only are the common sources of stress identified, so also are the coping mechanisms of emergency dispatchers, as well as employer stress mitigation strategies—actions that may be key to reducing on-duty stress.
One common element of these two seemingly disparate studies, is the need to address the fear, anxiety, confusion, and stress that is experienced by those associated with emergency calls—both for the emergency dispatch professional and for the layperson callers among the public who access the system for help.
Can we improve the system for both those who work in it, and those in the public for whom we intend our critical services to benefit? Taken together, these two studies suggest the answer is ‘yes’ on both counts—yet it is up to us to find solutions and act on them.
Our Research Spotlight showcases an IAED stalwart with a rich background in helping solve some of the most pressing research questions of our time. He went from researching malaria and AIDS in Africa, where those two diseases have killed hundreds of thousands over the years, to helping us improve IAED protocols and the emergency dispatching profession overall.
Finally, as we wrap up a second trying year—one that has once again pushed emergency services to the limit—we, the editorial staff of the AEDR, once again salute you, the emergency dispatch professionals who continue to work diligently and inconspicuously to protect and serve your communities.