Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Desk Excercises

As earlier mentioned, not much on Dispatcher and Weight(y) issues to research. And I'm good at finding obscure articles. So, I am posting some excercises we Dispatchers can do at our desks, even if connected with our umblical cord headsets. Looks like this would be good for stress relievers too.

Abdominal Hold
The abdominal hold can be performed discreetly at your desk and has varying levels of difficulty. The easier version requires a chair and begins by sitting upright with your shoulders over your hips. Take a deep breath, then slowly exhale engaging the stomach muscles by visualizing your belly button pulling toward your tailbone. Continue your slow breathing while holding your abs in this flexed position, slowly bring your right foot off of the floor for a count of 10, then switching to your left foot. Repeat this movement four to five times, then on your last exhale relax the stomach muscles. To increase the intensity of this exercise "Fitness" magazine recommends sitting closer to the edge of your chair, placing your hands on the edge for balance and slowly bringing both feet off of the ground. Make sure your chair is stable for the advanced version.

Sitting Twist
The sitting twist is an excellent way to work your obliques, the muscles that form the waist. Begin this exercise by sitting up tall at the edge of your chair with your shoulders square over your hips. Place your hands behind your head so your elbows are pointing out to the sides. Keeping your hips facing forward, slowly twist your entire torso, neck and head to face toward your left side. Bring this movement back to center and then twist to face the right side. Repeat this movement 10 to 20 times on each side. To make this movement more advanced when you turn toward the left side, slowly raise your left foot off of the floor and bring your left knee to meet your right elbow. Repeat the twist to the right, bringing your right foot off of the floor and bringing your right knee to meet your left elbow.

Deep Breathing
Not all stomach work needs to be about shortening and contracting the stomach muscles, according to "Yoga Journal" magazine. Deep abdominal breathing clears the nostrils, ears and other air ducts in the head, similar to a sneeze, which activates the deepest abdominal muscle, the transversus. Deep-breathing exercises can be performed easily at your desk. Begin by sitting upright in the center of your chair with your shoulders upright over your hips. Slowly inhale through your nose, drawing all of your breath in while relaxing your belly. Once you feel your belly is full of breath, gently exhale through your mouth, gently pulling your belly button in toward your back. Continue this exercise for about one minute.

Hamstring Curl
Perform the hamstring curl by standing at your desk and holding onto the desk or a wall for support. Lift your right foot slowly toward your buttocks. Keep the knee on your supporting leg slightly bent during the hamstring curl, without locking the knee. Lower your right foot slowly and repeat curl about 12 to 15 times. Switch to your left leg and perform the same number of repetitions.

Perform a side bend neck stretch by tilting your head to one side for 15 seconds and repeating the tilt three times on each side. Perform a diagonal neck stretch by turning your head slightly to one side. Look down and hold the position for 15 seconds. Repeat the movement three times on each side. The executive stretch requires you to lock your hands behind your head and move your elbows backward as far as you can. Inhale, lean backward to stretch your muscles and hold the position for 20 seconds. Exhale and return to your starting position.

Shoulder Rotations
Relieve strain and tension in your neck and shoulders by performing large forward and backward rotations every couple of hours. This takes only a few minutes but offers effective stress relief caused by tension in the arms, shoulders, upper back and neck area. Sit straight in your chair with your arms down by your sides. Circle your arms forward 10 times, then backward 10 times.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Running Late

This is directed to those co-workers who have time management issues.

Dear Co-Worker,

Once again I am leaving work late because you are unable to get to work in a timely manner.

Yes, occasionally I am arriving right on shift change. But out of a five day work week you arrive after the beginning of your shift on average three days a week. Which means I am working over before I can even brief you on what has happened and what is happening.

Briefing at shift change only takes a few minutes on average, but as you arrive late, the minutes add up. I added up three weeks worth and had 48 extra minutes of work. And I don't get paid for them, but you do.

So, dear co-worker, please be more considerate of your co-worker who is waiting to go home after a long shift. You like to leave work on time, don't you?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Am Famous

Well, not famous, but as of 2012, will be published. Have been working hard to keep my anonymity, and the writer John M Wills was very supportive of that fact, and is including some of my blog postings. Cleaned up, but the feel is still there. This blog was started for my edification, my need to express in writing what I can not say out loud. And apparently someone understands and connects.

What I find interesting is here is an author who is gathering stories of Women in Blue (or Brown) and was willing to include stories from Dispatchers. As a regular reader will know, I have noted the fact we are forgotten members of the Department so much of the time, yet this experienced LEO thought it important enough to add the stories of not just this Dispatcher, but others as well. My hat is tipped to you Mr Wills.

At the below link you can find out how to order your copy of this book. Check it out. Maybe buy a copy for your local library and donate it. Let's not forget the importance we Estrogen Based Life Forms add to the Thin Blue Line. Let's celebrate it.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Little Information Out There

Another example of how law enforcement dispatchers are the non-studied under-appreciated ugly stepchild of law enforcement. Wanted to do a little research on weight(y) issues and health issues that are prevalent with our jobs.

The only dispatchers I know who are slim after several years sitting behind a console with headset "umbilical cord" to the boards are those that just can't gain weight and those that work out an hour or two 6-7 days a week. (Who has the time for that? I'm lucky to get in two visits a week to the gym.)

There are even fewer dispatchers who don't get differing levels of carpel-tunnel or arthritis in their hands and elbows after typing millions of words a month during their shifts. Or the headaches from looking at and working with computer screen(s) for hours on end.

But if you Google or Bing "dispatcher + health" or "dispatcher + weight", what you DON'T find are articles pertaining to our unique job.

But change out dispatcher for officer and your reading choices are wide and varied.

I read an article many years ago that stated the Federal Government considered public safety dispatchers (PD/FD/EMS) were the second most stressful job, only behind traffic controlers. LEO's were number six.

Maybe because the public sees an officer, can put a name and face with the voice and actions, officers seem "more real" than the voice on the other end of the phone asking questions and trying to help.

Clearly, we need to hire a public relations firm and our own press agent to publicize all we do. Maybe we can get our own reality show, any title suggestions?

Maybe what we need to do is to start sharing information with each other. Be our own researchers and publishers of information. Clearly the psychology and health and physical research arenas don't find us interesting enough to delve into further. In those fields I understand it is "publish or perish". Guess we're not good enough material fodder.

But they would be so so so very wrong. Am I right?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

PTSD Notes For Self

Yes, continuing to explore this issue. It explains so much about my sleeping issues and inability to turn off my mind. And maybe why I am reacting to certain issues in my life and at work with such physical trauma I now have an ulcer to deal with.

Information from Mayo Clinic Website:

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can come and go. (Not too sure when it's gone. When it goes. Seems like I am raw all the time. Just there are moments under better control than others.)

You may have more post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms when things are stressful in general, or when you run into reminders of what you went through. (OK, makes sense. Since what caused the trauma was my work, and I continue to work in the field (though not the same location/agency) is perhaps why the PTSD never seems to fully go away.)

When to see a doctor:
It's normal to have a wide range of feelings and emotions after a traumatic event. You might experience fear and anxiety (Yeppers), a lack of focus (At the wierdest times, too), sadness, changes in how well you sleep (Doesn't happen unless am heavily medicated) or how much you eat, or crying spells that catch you off guard. You may have nightmares or be unable to stop thinking about the event (Replay converstaions and/or radio traffic over and over, thinking of what I wish I had asked/said or tell them to f*** off).

This doesn't mean you have post-traumatic stress disorder. (Say what???)

But if you have these disturbing thoughts and feelings for more than a month, if they're severe, or if you feel you're having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your health care professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.

Guess it's time for counseling again. Had really hoped changing agencies would rid me of the "if's" and "ughs". It has decreased, but still a bit of an issue. Of course, all the drama at home isn't helping either. If it ain't one thing it's another. Who plays of who? Home vs Work or Work vs Home? Both are my lives, but both cause me grief.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Wrong Is This?

Had to share this article. Because it is soooo wrong on sooo many levels. A man trying to help his community and drug cartel kills him for it. Citizens are using anonymous connections in social media and it still gets them killed. Where does it stop? When does the nation of citizens finally put their foot down and say enough is enough? Drug cartels are running and ruining the country. Theirs and ours. Makes me wonder how long before this form of "retribution" makes it way north.

Man Killed In Mexico For Social Media Comments
Published November 10, 2011
Fox News Latino

Mexican police found the decapitated body of a man left in the border city of Nuevo Laredo Wednesday at the same monument where the corpse of a woman purportedly killed in retaliation for her postings on an anti-crime website had been left previously, authorities said.
A photo of the scene indicates the man was killed for reporting criminals on social media sites, raising fears drug cartels are increasingly targeting bloggers.

Police found the body at a monument on one of the city's main thoroughfares, said a Tamaulipas state investigator who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to discuss the case.

The officer wouldn't discuss the content of the message but a photograph of the scene posted on a blog shows a handcuffed man lying on his belly on top of a bloodstained message and a chopped head nearby. The message reads "this happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn't report things on the social networks."

The message claimed the man, identified by his nickname "Rascatripas" or "Belly Scratcher," was a moderator of "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo," a website used by the city's residents to denounce crime and warn each other about drug cartel gunfights and roadblocks.

The gruesome killing may be the fourth since September in which people in Nuevo Laredo were killed by a drug cartel for what they said on the Internet.

The decapitated body of Maria Elizabeth Macías, "La Nena de Laredo," or "Laredo Girl," was found at the site in September with a message that said she was killed for her reports on the website. That message was signed with the letter "Z," which refers to the violent Zetas drug cartel.

Earlier that month, the bodies of a man and a woman were found hanging from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo with a message threatening, "this is what will happen" to trouble-making Internet users and also signed with a "Z."

The Zetas have dominated Nuevo Laredo, located across the border from Laredo, Texas, for years.

"Nuevo Laredo en Vivo" has a message acknowledging Macías was a contributor and lauding her courage.

Chat messages on the website show a user with the nickname of "Rascatripas" commented Monday afternoon about the dangers of traveling on a riverside highway that connects Nuevo Laredo to Ciudad Mier.

We're seeing that the war in Mexico it's not only about gaining control of the streets but also controlling information.

Carlos Lauria, senior program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists
Whether the unidentified man found Wednesday at a monument to Christopher Columbus contributed to the website it's unclear.

"We have no way of confirming whether he is the person who was killed because we're all anonymous," said a Tweet by "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo" in response to a request for comment by The Associated Press.

With local newspapers forced to avoid crime reporting by threats in many border cities Mexicans have increasingly turned to local online chat sites like "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo" to report and read about cartel activity. The site includes numbers to phone in tips to police and the military.

"We're seeing that the war in Mexico it's not only about gaining control of the streets but also controlling information," said Carlos Lauria, the Americas senior program coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "This is no longer a problem that affects just one group, for example journalists, but it affects anyone who informs ... this is putting Mexico's democracy at risk."

Users of "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo" wowed to continue reporting criminals to authorities.
"Those guys think they are so smart. They want to spread fear," wrote a user identified as Anon5218 Wednesday night. "As long as no one confirms Rasca was an honest citizen, let's leave it as a doubt and continue on."

Based on reporting by the Associated Press. Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2011/11/10/man-killed-in-mexico-for-social-media-comments/?test=latestnews#ixzz1dJXi1vT6

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I started this blog under a pseudonym because I wanted the freedom to write what I was thinking and feeling without fear of someone reading it and suing me over my stated opinions. I needed a safe place to vent my frustrations and head-shaking work moments that come from those I serve and those I share work space with.

If you're a blogger you have heard about those frivolous and painful lawsuits over your freedom of speech (though may be guaranteed under the First Amendment, if it "hurts" the feelings or reputation of the person you're upset about or at, it is no longer a protected right).

But the name, "Tired Dispatcher", has become a much larger identity. It has given me a second persona to explore and utilize. I find myself freely commenting on news articles because I can do so not as me, the wife-mother-grandmother-police dispatcher-community activist-student-etc, but as someone who has the ability to state their take on the issue and/or article and/or person as "Tired Dispatcher".

Being nameless-unknown-mysterious (maybe?) I can give voice to thoughts and opinions as dispatchers we are not permitted. Like an officer, we have to be neutral, as much as possible. We may not agree with your life choices, but you still have rights issued by law makers we must enforce evenly across the board and array of citizens we are hired to serve.

It is not easy to always remember that component of our job description. Well, that unwritten rule in the game of law enforcement.

We are not a judge who can sit back and Monday-morning quarterback and take the time to look up the legal issues and precedents on the issues.

We are not law makers who craft rules of behavior or permissions based on our highest money-making benefactor whims.

We are public servants who must enforce the good and not-so-good laws to all and sundry. Our opinions on the laws or on the people who get caught up in the illegal activities net are not suppose to matter, but just be dealt with in an even-handed manner.

Okay, okay. I can see how the eyebrows are raising. But truly, that is our intent. And it isn't easy. Our life experiences can sometimes color our tones of voice or manner in which we handle an ugly situation. We are, after all, powered by a specialized body fluid called blood, not oil. And thus, sometimes, the pressure of that precious life-giving fluid will rise and fall, boil or turn to ice, many times based on our pasts experiences and feelings and sentiments.

I may not have the freedom to voice my frustrations and share my laughable moments as ______ (haha - still anonymous), but as Tired Dispatcher? Hear me roar!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time To Reiterate

This was part of my very first blog. And due to recent calls, time to reiterate (repeat for those who get tired of my using big words):

Remember: 9-1-1 is for life or death or crimes in progress EMERGENCIES ONLY!

If you can remember four small rules when you call 9-1-1 for help, it is much easier on you and the Dispatcher you are talking to:

#1 - In ten words or less, tell the Dispatcher what the emergency is.

"I was in an accident"

"There is a house on fire"

"I need an ambulance"

#2 - Tell the Dispatcher where you are.

Location, location, location. At all times be aware of where you are.

Whether it is confirming your home address, or the major streets

where the accident happened. Pay attention to your surroundings

and be prepared to say where the location is.

#3 - Shut Up!

There is no nice way to say this. It is now time to be quiet

so the Dispatcher can ask the questions and gather the important

information from you. You want to tell them everything, but

there are pieces of information we need to know NOW. You

can share the rest of the story later.

#4 - Breathe!!

Don't forget to breathe! You're heart is racing, the adrenaline is

pumping! And it's hard to think when all the blood is racing

to your vital organs in preparation for fight or flight, a natural

physio response. But the Dispatcher needs your blood going

to your head and brain so they can get the information they need

for the officers. Remember to take a deep breath. And another.

Awwww...... feel much better. Now, if I could only get this information into the hands of those idiots who call 9-1-1 because they're too lazy to look up the non-emergency phone number or keep the phones (cell and landline) out of the reach of little kids who like to press buttons. There are play phones out there you can give kids to play with that won't waste so much of my time. Your fix-it ticket is not an emergency, even if you have to be in traffic court tomorrow about it.

Am I right Fellow Dispatchers?!?!?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Stress Relievers

We know our job is full of doom and gloom, trauma and drama. Inside the department and with our citizens. Let's face it, people don't call us because they are having a great day and want to share good news with us. We deal with phone call after phone call of pain, anger, fear, confusion. Radio traffic full of responding to calls for service, traffic stops, and keeping track of our boys and girls in cars helping citizens on the streets.

So I ask you, how do you relieve the stress of your job?

Have a co-worker who runs (or walks very quickly) the stairs of a major university football stadium. Another rides for miles and miles on bikes. One spends hours looking through the world of a camera lens and photographing gorgeous scenery.

Had a co-worker who knitted during her shift (knew how irritating the caller was by how fast her needles were flying) and did woodwork at home. Was always remodeling and reworking something for her home; her haven.

Then there are those co-workers (present and past) who are rude to officers, ruder to callers, and down right rude and snippy to co-workers. Guess that's how they relieve their stress - give it to others.

I do needlework, like crocheting, needlepoint, cross stitch, embroidery, by the hour. Also love to do home repairs (even have my own power tools) and paint rooms. I also am very active in my community through volunteer work. Believe if you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

Let's face it world, we all have stress. But as dispatchers we have it much much more than the average person. Yes, I know, physical movement, like exercise, it a healthier way to relieve the stress. But yuck, I want something to show for my time. Something I can point at and say I created that, I painted that, I fixed that.

Here is a great article about different forms of stress relievers:

As I said earlier, had a question for you dear reader. How do you relieve the stress of your job? What helps you sleep? What keeps you sane (well, keeps you off the edge)?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Don't Understand

Having done this job off and on for over 30 years, I have heard of dispatchers committing suicide, but haven't been directly involved or know the person. Can't say that any more.

Having to say good bye to a person who was courteus and patient to citizens - professional to supervisors and senior officers - wonderful to co-workers - over the moon about her grandbabies - proud of her daughters and their achievements - well, it's really hard.

I fear we may never know just how much what we saw was a mask hiding her fears and pain.

To my sisters and brothers in dispatch - please please please look within yourself and decide if you need to remove your cheery mask and seek the help available. Our jobs are full of pain and trauma daily. Don't leave behind more for your co-workers.

Cause there are many of us sitting here right now weepy and hurt and angry and very confused. Blame game has started. Questions abound on why we didn't see the signs. Why didn't you see the signs? Didn't you know?

Hopefully friend you have found your peace that you needed. You will be missed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Leave My Job?

A very dear friend said if the job is getting to me so much, why don't I leave and go do something else?

It's not that simple.

I'm good at my job. Occasionally there is a call or a radio traffic that is so out of control, and because of my skills, I am able to solve issues and help people and keep my officers safe.

I'm professional. I help everyone who calls in to the best of my ability and get assistance to my officers without regard to their 'tudes or my feelings.

It's a challenge. Every day is something different. A new challenge is faced and overcome. No two days or even phone calls are alike.

There are rewards, though far and few between. Sometimes there is a note from an officer saying thank you for the extra help on that call. Sometimes you know you've saved a life because of your being there when they called.

I have tried other jobs. Have even learned some great skills. But they don't hold my interest like police dispatching does. I have been everything from receptionist to secretary to the vice president to contract administrator to legal transcriber to.... well, you get the idea. The only job that truly held my interest was marketing, because of all the planning and creativity and forward thinking and problem-solving involved. Very much like dispatching without the life and death issues. But my practical experience (and lots of it) without a college degree keeps me from getting a job where I can truly exercise that muscle.

Okay, so what about training? Get the education and training needed to get that marketing job. Sure, I plan to go back to school in the spring. That is a done deal. And I hope it leads into a marketing job. But I also know that an exploration into psychology and PTSD for dispatchers needs to be explored. Maybe I can market the idea of PTSD for dispatchers with my PhD.

Walking away from a job that you know affects life and death issues, that makes you stretch and work hard for solutions, keeps you stimulated with thought and deed is not so easy.

As discussed here at other times, this is not the job for many. And many more don't understand how we can continue to expose ourselves to such horrors and long hours and stress.

Why don't I walk away? I don't know if I can. I don't know if I should. I don't know what else I can do. Been at this frame of work and mind maybe too long to be able to walk away.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Use To Be Happy - Then I Became A Dispatcher

Was talking to a friend VS, another fellow dispatcher. We were talking about our altered mental states, a prerequisite for our jobs, when she mentioned she use to be a happy person. Then she became a dispatcher.

Oh boy girl, did you hit a hot topic for me.

Seriously, think back on how you viewed the world, how you acted, what you believed in, before your dispatching work. Even if you grew up in a violent home, or a law enforcement family home, or Ozzie and Harriet-style home, your views and attitudes change the longer you sit behind the mic and phone.

Have heard many times from wives and girlfriends on how their husbands/boyfriends changed while going through the police academies. And how after a few years of service they come to realize they are now in a relationship with a different person. When many marriages dissolve and relationships fail.

But little is ever written or recognized or discussed that it is the same for dispatchers. Not all states require dispatchers to go through academies, most dispatcher training is done on the job. The first year is spent learning so much, gaining new skills, that the changes become very subtle, but they are there. Have trained a few in my career and seen many more go through training (not all making it) and speak from experience.

But the longer we do this job the more our minds, opinions, prejudices, trust issues, etc change. And not for the better.

VS mentioned that she doesn't trust anymore. Before her dispatching career she trusted everyone. But being exposed to a part of the community and their actions has changed that. Drives her kids crazy too.

Yeah, VS, that is how this job changes you. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home and thought I trusted few and little. But looking back, after many many many many years dispatching, I realize I was a very trusting soul. But dispatching has totally destroyed that part of me.

How else has dispatching changed you? Are you now unsympathetic to a certain group of people? I had little patience for women who stayed in abusive relationships before my career, and now have almost (well, really) none.

How about your political views? How have they changed? Did you change political parties?

And what about relationships???? One of the hardest things about our job. Getting and maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner while doing this job. In the outside world the stats are something like 50/50 for marriage success. In law enforcement, more like 80/20 for failure. Not just officers but dispatchers too.

And having and raising kids? With our hours? And exposure to really bad kids? Did you have kids before you started the job? How have your parenting skills changed? How many rules of behavior and expectations have changed and become more strict?

This job changes you on so many levels. And VS and I have barely scratched the surface.

Have always said this blog is for me. I post what I want to say and really don't care if you reply or comment (though I love it when you do). But today, for this entry, I would love to hear from other dispatchers and get their viewpoints on this topic.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm Not Worthy?

Have been a dispatcher for a looong time. And it is a fact that we are second-class citizens in a police department. Officers think they can do our job better , the brass treat us like glorified secretaries (well, most of the time they treat their secretaries better), and our own supervisors forget how front line we are.

Yes, we are front line. Just because people don't see our faces, we are considered unworthy of the positive attention and support and respect of our own administration and the public we serve.

It is a truly horrific part of our job. I have lived through a few calls/events that have really left me shaken and upset, but because I wasn't directly on the scene I was not part of the debriefing or even permitted the opportunity to take the rest of the shift off to decompress, while the uniformed counterpart was given a week off with pay and/or given support to "deal" with the trauma of the call.

I have been briefly talking about PTSD. It is a new topic I am exploring. And I just went off on a tangent about the lack of tie in between PTSD and dispatchers. But I am allll fired up again.

I took Tired Dispatcher to Facebook to look for more PTSD information and to join dispatcher support pages, etc. Amongst my searching I found a Police Officers and PTSD support page. I sent in my request to join. Got reply asking if I was a police officer. Said no, just long time dispatcher who is dealing with work related PTSD. Got reply that the support page is for law enforcement officers only.

ONLY???? Excuse me???? Am I not part of the law enforcement community??? Am I not privey to the traumas and dramas of the commuity I serve? Do I not hear the stories and the crying and the shots fired? Do I not send officers to be shot at, monitor when in pursuit, send backup, an ambulance, a coroner when needed?

And because I sit behind a microphone or telephone I am not worthy of the same respect, support or help than my uniformed counterpart.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More PTSD Information

Have been Bing'ing "PTSD + Dispatch(er)" and can find no articles written about PTSD and dispatching. But if you search "PTSD + Law Enforcement" you can find a plethora of articles. Naturally I skimmed through them to look for anything related to dispatchers.


But I did like this quote from a published article written by Paul G Brown from The Criminal Justice Institute, School of Law Enforcement Supervision, November 2003, entitled, "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Law Enforcement."

I quote, "We have all no doubt heard of police burnout. Usually police officers experience burnout after about eight to ten years of experience. After many years of seeing things on a daily basis that would make most people cringe, police officers begin to feel numb and feel that they have "seen it all". Nothing seems to affect them anymore. Their work and their attitude toward police work may suffer. Morale goes down and sometimes police officers relieve their stress by becoming increasingly violent toward citizens, suspects, and even their own families."

I submit the section could read like this, catered towards dispatchers:: "We have all no doubt heard of job burnout. Usually public safety dispatchers experience burnout after about five to seven years of experience. After many years of listening and hearing horrific things on a daily basis, for hours on end, that would bring the average person to tears, dispatchers begin to feel great levels of frustration, disassociation and think they have heard it all. After thousands of these calls they are less able to empathize with the callers, and thus unable to connect to be able to help to their fullest ability. Their work and their attitude toward police work and their co-workers begin to suffer. Morale goes down, Supervisors demand more, and too many times the dispatchers relieve their stress by becoming increasingly rude and belligerent toward citizens, callers, co-workers and even their own families."

Am not really saying anything new. Have discussed these very merits in previous blogs. But it is interesting that just the changing of job title and job description, the law enforcement officer PTSD (a diagnosis recognized) aligns perfectly to describe law enforcement dispatcher PTSD, something not recognized.

Am thinking of changing my major from Business/Marketing to Psychology. Think more research is needed in this area. And it is clear that so far no one is taking the issue seriously. Guess not enough dispatchers are committing suicide or physically hurting their family members over the stresses of their job to get the attention of someone who cares.

Also, in my humble opinion, dispatchers get so conditioned to being treated like a second class citizens in their job, they begin to discount their own personal feelings, ignore the physical stress symptoms, and don't share their experiences enough so others out there can be educated as to the level of stress and horror we are exposed to regularly.

Time for us dispatchers to speak up and be heard. Because I know I'm not the only one out there experiencing the symptoms of PTSD and having them over looked and ignored because my job title is dispatcher, not officer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Clock Watching

Never really considered myself much of a clock watcher, until lately.

I have always been an early bird. I prefer to arrive at my destination early. If I arrive on time I feel like I am late. If really early, I set in my car and read for a bit.

I like to come early to work and have "attitude adjustment time" where I can read the notes on the bulletin board, fix my coffee, socially talk with co-workers, and get into the "work" frame of mind. This is done on my time, not the time I am being paid to work.

But too many co-workers like to walk in one - two minutes before the beginning of their shift. Or come in several minutes past the beginning of their shift.

Come on folks.

You like to be relieved from your shift on time, please give me the same consideration. I understand an occasional late arrival, but 4-5 work days a week???

This is truly an epidemic here. So by the time you are signed on, and have been briefed, too many times it is 10-15 minutes past the end of my shift and I'm not getting paid.

Solution: Arrive 5 minutes before the beginning of your shift. You know it takes at least that long to get signed on and briefed, so when your shift begins, you are ready, and when my shift ends, I can go home.

This offered solution is for every dispatcher, not just those that relieve me. You don't have to come in 10-15 minutes early like I choose to, but be ready to work, which means in control of the dispatch panel, by the beginning of your shift.

Professional courtesy is all I'm asking.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Am Still Busy

Someone sent me a question why I was not talking so much about my new agency. Is it because it is smaller and thus less work? Why am I not sharing about my work as much? Because I don't need to let off steam as much.

Some comparisions I have noted:

Large Agency: over 200 phone calls (easy) within 8 hours.
Small Agency: over 10 phone calls (sometimes) within 8 hours.

Large Agency: legbail chase at least a couple times a shift.
Small Agency: legbail chase couple times since I started 7 months ago.

Large Agency: high speed pursuit after occupied stolen vehicle often.
Small Agency: high speed pursuit after occupied stolen vehicle just occured first time in a year.

Large Agency: over 900 officers, and if lucky, you know a handful of them.
Small Agency: 15 officers and I know them all.

Large Agency: you can keep it -
Small Agency: much nicer working conditions

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Repeated Complaint

I know I have mouthed off about this problem before. So please be patient.

Why the H-E-double toothpicks don't parents know their kids addresses and phone number?? Or at least have it written down for easy access??

You call the police asking for a welfare check or possible missing person report on your grown kid who you haven't talked to for months but can't tell that agency exactly where they live. If we're lucky the parent at least knows the name of the complex (which always has multiple addresses).

We check our records, run all sorts of searches and come up, usually, with 2-3 addresses for the person. So there goes the time and efforts of one to two officers going to the areas and knocking on doors, searching for the viable address.

Meanwhile the parent always has a perfectly good excuse for the reasons why they don't talk much with their kid and why they don't have the address or phone number of their kid handy and why they can't go to the last known location of their kid to try to knock on the door and speak to their kid.

Another thing to the parent who is calling for help:: don't call me when you're two sheets to the wind and want to whine and complain how the other parent is harassing you about the fact the mutually shared grown-ass kid isn't calling them.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

According to Anxiety Care webpage notes on PTSD: On the subject of hiding rather than overcoming, it has been suggested that children and adolescents , or adults who have trauma going back into early childhood, might use coping techniques like denying, or forcing themselves to ignore, the stress-generating event in PTSD. This might have been the only technique available to the child at the time, particularly if the parent/carer was abusive or indifferent so responsible for some, or all, of the trauma. The problem is, this is not a good way to deal with PTSD, as part of recovery has to be confronting the emotions and fears it generates and dealing with them, as mentioned. This might be extremely difficult if the adult or adolescent has learnt these "hiding" techniques very strongly as a child, and allows no possibility of error to enter his or her mind , as is common with young children and as may be carried into adulthood. The result will be summarily negative if the adolescent or adult cannot accept the "camels back": the building of stress over a long period, and seeks only to counter the current trauma without consideration for the depth of the problem that may be making current difficulties worse.

Okay, whoa. Have been told in the past by counselors this is what I do. I intellectualize the event or the words; I don't feel them. I don't allow myself to feel them and really don't acknowledge them. This was before I got back into police dispatching full time. When I was trying to cope with some of my childhood traumas and learn how not to repeat the mistakes so as not to mess up my marriage.

I think all of us dispatchers do this. Whether it was a trait we had in our personality arsenal before we started the job, it is certainly a coping mechanism that is developed, and fine tuned over the years. As a dispatcher you have to. Because people call you when they are frightened or hurt or angry or confused. And when it is call after call after call, you have to come up with a way to deal with them.

There is very little routine in our job. Maybe a call from an alarm company, always handled the same on our end, different outcomes in the field. But otherwise, every phone call is a different event needing a different part of your personality to handle. Every CFS for the radio dispatcher means a different or additional responsibility to handle. And when you have between three to 55 officers (or more) on your channel you are responsible for, and need to keep track of, and try to help, every CFS adds to the stress level, whether low or high priority.

But there is one big event, one big CFS, or one phone call asking for help, that tumbles down that carefully built house of cards. And no matter how hard you try to get the first level, that all important foundation, rebuilt, one end continues to fall, can't or won't support the next level. It is accepting the fact you might need help it not easy for most dispatchers. Admitting that you can't handle it without some support.

Is it fear that keeps us from finishing that foundation level? Is it not wanting to admit how much it scared you or hurt you that makes your hand shake when that all important corner is being placed?

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Check out this link. http://ptsd.factsforhealth.org/have/ptsd.aspx

As dispatchers we listen to trauma and drama for hours on end, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. For any dispatcher I talk to, there is usually at least two different phone calls or radio events that pops into their mind, instantly, when asked about a scary call.

Usually when people think about PTSD it is in terms of a serviceman or servicewoman returning from battle. Or an officer involved in an OIS. Little is written about the cumulative effect of witnessing and/or listening to trauma and drama when people are truly at the worst moments of their lives and you can't do very much to help and too many times as dispatchers we don't know how it ended. An officer has that benefit at least.

I think I may be exploring this phenomenon more in this blog. After all, it is here for me to express my work-related thoughts. This blog is here for me to help de-stress. And I think it is a component that needs exploring.

So the next few entries will be for me. Well, actually all the writings have been for me. But as it seems people are actually reading this, many of you may find the next few entries disturbing or off-track or even think it is the wrong place for the exploration. My words to you, don't read them. Just move on. Take me off your reading list.

I need to do this. This is how I work through my dark moments. Many psychiatrists and counselor's recommend their patients to journal. As I can type much faster than I can write, blogging has become a great outlet for me. Maybe I can come to terms with some things without the need for a PhD or Counselor or meds.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Battle Survivors

Was recently visited by a former workmate who became a very dear friend. We supported each other through the daily battles and skirmishes with the citizens, officers and brass. When one was feeling the pressure the other tried to take on a little bit more, a few extra phone calls, or power walked beside the upset co-worker.

Through years of daily wins and losses, some gained territory, losing lots of territory, like many people who have been through battles, you create a bond with those in the trenches like no other.

We both have moved on, to other work and other agencies. But as the recent visit proved, we are still very connected. It also made me realize how lucky I am in my new department and that deployment back to the former battle (work) location where I was able to forge this friendship, would be impossible.

Just needed to get this off my chest. No other purpose to this post.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Say What???

This is from an article sent to me. Just too funny. Who says our jobs don't have silly moments?


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


There are supervisors who are good at motivating their staff, encouraging them, giving of praise/recognition when deserved, and preparing them for advancement.

Then there are those supervisors who prefer to belittle, talk down, when extra effort is made instead of acknowledging in a positive manner, they say, it's your job. They are usually the ones who have a complaint about everything and everyone. They couldn't do your job but they love to tell you how to do yours.

Now, think about them in a different light or angle if you please. If they were one half of a marriage, and you the other half; they were to talk to you that way, discount anything you do as worthless, and tell everyone you're not up to the job, those of us in LE know you're in an abusive relationship. Not physical, but psychologically abusive relationship.

As a dispatcher we would tell you where the different shelters are located. The different services available to aid you in gaining the strength necessary to break away from such an abusive relationship.

So why is the behavior permitted and permission able at work but so repugnant at a home relationship?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How Did I End Up Here?

Was reading a book recently where the hero realized he never reached his life goal of occupation. During his path to the dream job, he started a job that would pay bills, in other words, temporary until he got where he wanted. Realized he had quite the knack for the interim work so it was very easy to lose track of time as the work was stimulating. It would end up being his bread and butter job for many years before he realized he had taken the fork in the roadway that led him in a different direction and was no longer on a path that would get him anywhere near his original goal.

Dispatching was not the job I originally thought I would have for so many years, so I truly empathied with his soul searching and eventual resolution this was his life now.

I doubt there are many dispatchers out there who started their career dreaming and planning with hopes to be a dispatcher one day. They may have started the work/fallen into the work accidently, like I did, and ended up many years later still talking to citizens and telling officers where to go. It was a job that was just suppose to help pay the bills while they worked towards their original career goal. Or maybe they fell into the job because it fit their schedule, a time killing occupation, until better offers came along.

However you ended up as a dispatcher, the job has a way of grabbing you. Time goes quickly because of the lack of routine. Each shift has a differnt challenge. Each phone call for help or guidance is different. Each call for service is not quite like the call before it.

Dispatching is not for the weak of heart or soul. Look at all those new hires that never finished their training because there was too much to know or too much multi-tasking or, just, too much. Those people who left after a short time because their hurting hearts and mental anguish of listening to the hour upon hour of pain and drama became too heavy a burden to carry and sleep with.

Those of us who have survived many years on the other end of the phone or behind the radio deserve a pat on the back and a hug. And a good dose of happy meds.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Race Card

Once again, accused of being racist because I have yet to send an officer to take care of the caller's request.

The facts:

- there are fewer officers than requests for assistance pending
- the accuser only called for the help 15 minutes earlier (hello, drive time)
- I am blind to their ethnicity due to talking to them over the phone
- there are set priorities established by department policy for different services
- caller doesn't know my ethnicity for the same reason I don't know his

Dear Caller - Save the race card for when it really matters (like life and death are involved) and when there is clear evidence of discrimination. Threatening to contact my supervisors and the Chief and the media is NOT going to get you any help any faster. Grow up, shut up, and wait your turn.

Enough said.