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 pay and working conditions at an existing job, have been cited as contributing to this mass exodus of workers. Simply by the nature of their work, emergency dispatchers sometimes have fewer options when it comes to those factors, so dispatch agencies must develop new and creative strategies for recruiting and keeping talented staff. In some cases, emergency dispatch agencies may have to prepare for the prospect of getting higher performance out of a reduced staff, by developing more efficiencies and well-refined performance measures.
One research article in this issue attempt to shine a light on the reasons dispatch agencies experience high turnover and can’t always recruit good talent in a timely fashion. It’s author, Andre V Jones, examines “job demands and resources that influence organizational commitment.” His work provides us with some guidance on how to improve retention and better job performance.
A second study, by author Doug Smith-Lee, uses a survey of Public Safety Communication Centers (PSCCs) to establish a framework for benchmarking agencies, using a proposed set of key performance measures (KPIs) that survey participants identified.
Our Research Spotlight is an interview with Patrick Clark, a long-time emergency services professional who led a research team to examine how innovative technology in the emergency communication center could affect the mental health of emergency dispatchers, and what mental health resources might be available to stay abreast of the changing work environment.
Our case report is timely look at using the Fire Priority Dispatch System (FPDS) to manage vehicle fires in electric vehicles—a call type that will only become more frequent as millions of new electric vehicles hit the roads in the next couple of years.
I hope the content in this issue helps provide you insights and guidance on developing a more satisfied, skilled, and well-adjusted emergency dispatch staff in your agency.
Greg Scott, Editor-in-Chief