Did you know?
Compassion fatigue affects as many as eight out of ten 911 dispatchers. Repeated exposure to second hand trauma while fielding emergency calls can take a toll on mental, emotional, and physical health.
Michelle Perin shared her insight into compassion fatigue and the risk to 911 dispatchers in a 2012 Officer.com blog:
"Emergency communication operators do what they do because they want to help people. Whether it’s the child on the phone or an officer on the radio, we want to use our skills to make a difference in the lives of others. Because of the unique characteristics of our involvement in traumatic events, we are often affected yet frequently forgotten about in trauma reduction efforts."
She goes on to share:
"We often never hear the outcome of a situation we handle let alone get to work through the symptoms of being directly affected by it. We must learn to recognize that we are affected by what we do. It is a natural part of our job. We must also learn to take care of ourselves and each other. Maintaining our physical, mental and emotional health is key."
Michelle's words ring true with many dispatchers we've met in the field. Seasoned telecommunicators share that creating emotional boundaries and re-focusing after especially difficult calls are keys to handling traumatic stressors.
If you'd like to learn more about compassion fatigue and how to reduce its impact, check out The Cost of Caring: 10 Ways to Reduce Compassion Fatigue and 5 Ways to Prevent Compassion Fatigue.
And remember, staying healthy helps you help others every day.
For more information...
The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recognizes the potential impact of compassion and empathy fatigue and outlines awareness measures and protocols in the NENA Standard on 9-1-1 Acute/Traumatic and Chronic Stress Management.
We'd like to hear from you. If you have go-to de-stressors that may benefit fellow dispatchers, let us know.
Are you interested in more practical tips for reducing stress?