Ask a Dispatcher
Q. I am in college for criminal justice to become a dispatcher. My question is how you handle the hours and the stress of calls fielded? How do you feel when you are unable to get help to a victim in time to save them?
Dear Juneau Resident,
Here is an answer crafted with help from a senior dispatcher:
Everybody handles the schedule and stress differently. As far as the schedule goes, because it is very difficult to frequently miss important family or social events, having a good support system outside of work is crucial. It helps to be creative with when you get together with friendsólike having breakfast get-togethers after a night shift instead of evening. Dispatchers often help each other when someone has an important event and needs work hours covered.
Sometimes, we donít recognize the stress of a call until hours later when we are lying in bed and canít sleep. Sometimes, itís just a matter of figuring out what to do with the adrenaline dump we get on really intense calls. Even though the adrenaline is coursing like crazy, we still have to stay put and do the job at hand. Even standing, our desks do rise to that position, can sometimes help with the adrenaline. Some calls will rock someone to the core, and itís important to have someone trusted you can talk to who understands you can't share all the details due to confidentiality. For some calls, the department will coordinate a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, designed to help folks deal with the stress of calls. Those can be quite helpful. JPD has an employee assistance program where counseling can be made available to employees.
One unfortunate reality is that we will deal with deaths of people we try to help. It is an inevitable part of the job. We take comfort in having done whatever we could for the person who called.