Healthy DispatchersLEMIT held an inaugural program for dispatchers in Texas on how to deal with stress and difficult people.
To serve the emergency services community, the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas recently offered a special interactive program for dispatchers to address how to deal with stress and difficult people.
“Dispatchers are the first point of contact between citizens and the agency,” said James Senegal, Director of Professional Development at LEMIT. “We understand the need to have healthy dispatchers to provide better service to the community and to law enforcement.”
Presented by The Healthy Dispatcher, the two-day seminar featured two consecutive training sessions. The first focused on building personal resiliency to stress, and the second focused on dealing with difficult people. The program was attended by 100 public safety dispatchers, dispatch supervisors, training officers, directors, and communications support staff from across Texas. It was co-sponsored by the Montgomery County Emergency Communication District.
The program was designed and delivered by The Healthy Dispatcher, a training provider specializing in classes for 9-1-1 telecommunicators. The Healthy Dispatcher is comprised of Joe Serio, a Ph.D. graduate from Sam Houston State University, and Adam Timm, a former dispatcher from the Los Angeles Police Department. Serio, owner of Law Enforcement Development Training and author of the Get the Nerve® series to enhance officers’ emotional survival and self-improvement, is an expert in organizational behavior. Timm is a stress resiliency expert who spent more than 10 years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher.
“Law enforcement focuses a lot of training on police officers and far less on dispatchers,” said Serio. “Our mission is to help fill the gap. Dispatchers have extremely difficult jobs with inadequate resources and are misunderstood by a lot of their non-dispatch colleagues. Our mission is to give them the tools to thrive in such a challenging environment.”
The first session, called “De-Stress & Get More ‘Me’ Time,” discussed physiological and psychological responses to stress and ways to address the challenges. Solutions covered included diet, nutrition, action plans for managing fear, self-management tools for creating more free time, and stress resilience strategies promoting a proactive response instead of habitual reaction. The second session, “Positive Interaction with Difficult People,” explored the impact of stress on quality communication; elements of effective communication, the primary personality types and how to interact with each; strategies for conflict resolution; how to give and receive criticism; and how to reduce the frequency of negative interaction.
“Working in 9-1-1 can take a toll,” said Timm. “I found out the hard way. Only by using these tools and strategies myself was I able to make a positive difference. The key to a thriving career in 9-1-1 is understanding how stress can impact your health, and then knowing what to do about it. Increasing resiliency, both in mind and body, is the most important thing a dispatcher can do to stay healthy.”
The Healthy Dispatcher will be offered again in the summer, so look for upcoming programs on the LEMIT calendar. For more information about the program, The Healthy contact Senegal at (936) 294-3193 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.