Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sensitivity Training

If you do this job for very long, you really lose the ability to be sensitive and feel empathy for many of the callers and citizens. Not all of the people who call in are waste of breathing room on the planet. Some really are victims of others greed and stupidity. They are worthy of our heart-clenches and quick intakes of breath.

But it is those other callers that I want to rag about.

I have a wonderful manicurist. Part of the reason we have had a client relationship that has evolved into friendship over many years is partially because she is a former police dispatcher. Yes, some dispatchers actually leave the headache inducing - stomach clenching - despair rendering job and find very self-satisfying work away from the trauma and drama of daily public safety dispatching work. She has become a great sounding board who truly understands the ups and downs of the job. She can commiserate.

Our last time together we were talking about how I have lost so much of my empathy over all these years of listening to doom and gloom and horror. It isn't a "something" a person can find in lost and found. It isn't a "something" one can hold or wear like a piece of jewelry. I feel the loss inside. Am aware of the loss of the "piece" because I know there was a time when I felt the need to help those who needed it or wanted it. Don't have the need any more.

She shared with me the phone call that got her assigned to sensitivity training.

A victim of domestic violence was calling 9-1-1 for help. Suspect was outside the door and she didn't know what to do. As this was not the first time the victim has been beat up or the first time she has called in for help, my manicurist - then dispatcher - simply told her, "Don't open the fucking door. He can't get in and hurt you if you don't open the fucking door for him."

I'm hearing this story, raising my mental fist going "rah rah", and recognizing the desire to replicate her response to some of my callers. Okay, truthfully, to many of my callers.

Sadly, as our phone calls/work is recorded, it was brought to the attention of the supervisor and sergeant about her response to the woman's pleas on what to do. The smile of the sergeant was hard to hold back apparently as he listened to the call, again, with the former dispatcher. The supervisor gave a huge sigh and said that this former dispatcher would clearly benefit from sensitivity training, reminding her that it is not her job as a call taker to offer such, aww, direct solutions to domestic situations.

How many of us dispatchers / call takers / officers haven't wanted to utter those words of advise? Raise your hands.

Sometimes the stupidity, only word I can think of besides the multiple words of their tunnel vision thinking, to describe our citizens, just doesn't compute with me. And listening to their whines and acquiesce to their surroundings and situations without backbone and conjones to work for more and better just boggles this above average IQ'd person.

To the men and women who accept verbal and/or psychological and/or physical abuse from their partners...

"Don't open the fucking door. You can't get hurt if you don't open the fucking door and let them in."


Dispatcher X said...

Ditto to everything you said.

I think I was a little over a year into this gig when another dispatcher, three years more senior than me told me, "you haven 't been here long enough to be bitter and angry." Told myself I would never be that way, should have known better.

After hearing the same stories over and over again it just becomes mindless dribble and you really do just want to tell then to grow a spine and "don't open the fucking door!!!"

I need your manicurist!!! :)

Dispatcher Sassy Pants said...

Since I laughed at that-- loudly I might add, does that mean I need sensitivity training?

To echo what X said - it just all becomes repetitive after awhile. OF COURSE the drug addict you "lent" your car to is late bringing it back - they're a f*cking drug addict. Not exactly paragons of responsibilty.

I swear I have a list of numbers, bag of quarters, and a payphone picked out somewhere rural for the day I retire.

Aaron the Truck Driver said...

Speaking of recorded calls. How does one go about getting a tape of a call? Not that i want or need to do this, i was just wondering if it is just a matter of asking?