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Health Risks and the Dispatcher
The communication center is the nerve center of public safety. Here, we are responsible for the safety of responders, bystanders, victims, and patients. We also keep track of
available resources and all units’ status and location. The job is stressful and conditions are not always perfect. With all of these responsibilities, have we neglected ourselves, the dispatcher?
In today’s society, it seems that being at your desk longer makes you more productive. Due to competition in the corporate world, many people are working longer hours, have long commutes, and, when they’re finally home, sit down and relax. On average, people in the corporate world sit for 10 to 15 hours a day.
The job of the public safety dispatcher is similar to a corporate job in some ways, but very different in nature. Tradition has placed the dispatcher in a chair. We “sit the desk” for long hours, resulting in a sedentary lifestyle.
What health risks does the dispatcher experience on the job?
- Eating regular meals can be a challenge. Due to the nature of the job, we often must eat between calls. Dispatchers often eat take-out, processed foods, and few vegetables.
- Dispatchers may experience sleep issues. 911 is a 24/7 system, and dispatchers are required to work long shifts and rotating shifts. We may have to work days, evenings, or midnights. One week we may work the day shift, the next week is overnights, then back to day shifts. Interrupting your sleep cycle wears on your body.
- Posture plays a vital role in your health. Poor posture can cause pain in the head, neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, hips, and legs. Does an uncomfortable chair make it difficult to sit properly? Sturdy, ergonomically solid chairs are expensive, and some agencies cannot swing the cost.
- Stressors are a major part of our job. We face tragedy, fear, anger, and every other emotion on a daily basis. Stress can add to the risk factors for poor health, including physical pains, unexplained anger, short temper, a feeling of being overwhelmed, and relationship troubles.
Health Risks of Extended Sitting
According to a 2012 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, in one week, people spend an average of 64 hours sitting, 28 hours standing, and 11 hours milling around (non-exercise type walking.) This is based on the average of being awake for 15 hours a day, and these numbers do not include the recommended 150 minutes per week for exercise. Keep in mind that these studies are based in the corporate world of 8-hour shifts, and dispatchers often work much longer shifts.
Studies have shown that, after sitting for 8 to 10 hours a day, even the highest level of exercise does not counteract the damage done to the body. Up until recently, a person who exercised 60 minutes a day was considered to be “physically active.” This conclusion is now being questioned.
Emerging research suggests that it is possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary, and that sitting for long hours increases your risk of disease. For example, if someone smokes and also exercises regularly, the healthful effects of exercise do not negate the harmful effects of smoking. This is why sitting is now considered the “new smoking.”
Sitting for extended periods of time affects a number of health issues. These health issues include the following:
- As the body’s metabolism and circulation slow due to lack of activity, it uses less sugar and burns less fat. If our intake of sugars remains at the same level, this results in high sugar levels and can lead to adult onset Type II diabetes.
- Lack of exercise can lead to risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Without exercise, the heart has to work harder to pump properly and may become strained upon exertion.
- A 2013 survey of nearly 30,000 women found that those who sat for nine or more hours a day were more likely to be depressed than those who sat fewer than six hours a day. Prolonged sitting reduces circulation, causing fewer feel-good hormones to reach your brain. Exercise releases these feel-good hormones and hormones that help us relax, which also reduces stress.
Additional Health Issues for the Dispatcher
The act of sitting isn’t the only health risk encountered in the dispatch center. Stomach illness can also result from extended periods at the computer, including the “Qwerty Tummy,” a condition caused by eating without cleaning the keyboard. Some keyboards have been found to contain 150 times the acceptable level of bacteria.
Dehydration is another health issue. It is important to drink water at work because air conditioning and building heat can dry out the skin. Eyes can also become dehydrated from staring at a computer screen for too long.
50% of office workers who use a computer say they have lower back pain. Poor posture can cause lower back pain, and leaning over the keyboard causes upper back pain.
One study in the Journal of Epidemiology found that 9 hours a day or more of staring at a computer screen shows a slight increase in the risk of progressive eye disease and glaucoma.
Minimize the Health Risks
There are several ways the dispatcher can stay healthy. Diet is a big part of keeping healthy. Taking in more calories than you burn increases your weight. Eating healthy will help you maintain weight and feel energized while you work.
Getting enough sleep is a great asset to your health. It will help with your posture, memory, and patience, and reduce stress. Getting enough sleep may be difficult when shifts rotate. Find what best works for you and plan ahead for your work schedule
Daily exercise is recommended, but exercising 60 minutes a day, five days a week is not enough. Take a brisk walk at work during lunch if possible. Even a short walk in the office can help. Get up from your chair to go to the restroom and stretch your muscles.
Take time during the day to do short exercises at your desk. Engaging your muscles for one or two minutes each hour will help your body stay active. Set the timer on your computer to remind you to get up and move every hour. If you’re on the phone, stand up or walk around while talking, if possible. If you need to discuss something with another employee, walk and talk rather than typing an email. In addition to these work-time exercises, try for a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous exercise five days a week.
Between workouts during your shift and your mild aerobic exercise, you will be making a difference in your overall health, which may reduce your overall risk of illness. Don’t succumb to a sedentary lifestyle. Stay healthy for an improved life!
PowerPhone is proud to offer a Continuing Education course exploring the relationship between sitting and health among 911 Dispatchers and Call Handlers. Enroll now and enjoy the benefits of learning when and where you want.
Keyboards ‘dirtier than a toilet’ “. BBC News. 2008 May 1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7377002.stm.
Milarn, Emily. “Deskercise! 33 Ways to Exercise at Work.” Greatist. 2012 May 17. http://greatist.com/fitness/deskercise-33-ways-exercise-work.
Yeager, Selene. “Sitting is the New Smoking- Even for Runners.” Runner’s World. 2013 July 20. http://www.runnersworld.com/health/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-even-for-runners.
“Sit Up Straight: Tips to Ditch Desk Ailments in Your Clients.” Ace Fitness. https://www.acefitness.org/blog/2587/sit-up-straight-tips-to-ditch-desk-ailments-in.
What is a Mass Casualty Incident?
An MCI is any incident in which emergency medical resources are overwhelmed by the number of patients and the severity of the casualties involved in the incident. By being overwhelmed that means not enough personnel and/or equipment to handle an incident.
A Mass Casualty Incident, commonly referred to as an MCI, brings to mind terrible catastrophic events, such as a school shooting like Sandy Hook, a terrorist attack such as the
September 11th attacks, or a natural disaster such as the Joplin Tornado. While these incidents are indeed included as an MCI, it doesn’t have to escalate to this degree to be classified as a Mass Casualty Incident.
The term mass casualty incident is used to trigger a change in how patients are handled to increase efficiency in allocating resources to “most” of the affected patients as possible. Common criteria to determine the declaration of an MCI include: number of patients, nature and severity of injuries, potential for further injury, and the availability of resources. Depending on the severity of the incident the declaration of a mass casualty incident might be localized to a city or county and the response jurisdictions within that area. Or in a more severe incident, it can include more jurisdictions statewide, or it can even impact a larger regional area.
It is important that the Incident Commander make this determination as soon as possible within the event to notify mutual aid resources to respond to the incident and to alert hospital staff of incoming patients. In this audio clip that appears on the next slide about the Boston Marathon Bombing on 4/15/2013, a Fire Incident Commander makes the notification of a mass casualty incident moments after the initial bombing. Notifications are then made to Command Staff, EMS, Hospitals and City Hall.
Whether an MCI is declared or not depends a lot on the location of the incident. To qualify as a mass casualty incident, the number and severity of patients has to “overwhelm available resources”.
Generally an incident has to have at least 3 patients. Very rarely will two patients ever be declared a mass casualty incident, however in a small town or rural area, two critical patients plus another patient with minor injuries could be enough to trigger a local jurisdiction to declare an MCI. If an accident occurs with 3 patients in a rural area that has minimal resources, that can be considered an MCI because their resources are overwhelmed. A single ambulance can transport multiple patients, but depending on the severity of each patient’s injuries, they may need more care than that single crew can provide therefore the number of patients exceeds the capacity that the local agency can provide in that case.
Whereas this same scenario in a more urban area may need to have 5 or more patients to triggers this response.
The cause of an MCI can range from many types of incidents that injure multiple people.One cause of an MCI is a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado, earth quake, or hurricane. During these incidents a part of the MCI process also includes the search and rescue component in finding the injured victims and getting them evacuated to a safe area as well as dealing with the elements that caused the incident. Another example of a Mass Casualty Incident can be a terrorist event such as the 9-11 attacks, or the Boston Marathon Bombing 4/15/13. As with a terrorist event, a shooting incident with multiple victims can also involve concern for the emergency responders. During these instances there is always concern for the safety of the responders because of the possibility of additional hazards; multiple associated suspects and secondary devices, yet the need to evacuate the injured to receive medical attention still exists. Concern for if the shooter is still at large, or if there are multiple shooters or in progress threats being made such as bombs or other incendiary devices. This can impede the process of evacuating the many victims to medical treatment.
Specifically during an MCI caused by an active shooter or terrorist attack due to the threat of the situation, EMS may be advised to standby in the area or stage at a predetermined location until the threat is eliminated. However, it can take a long time to secure a large scene and valuable time is lost getting trained medical personnel to the patients, which could mean the difference between life and death for critically injured patients. The faster the bleeding is stopped or controlled the better chance of survival. However, it can take a long time to secure a large scene and valuable time is lost getting trained medical personnel to the patients, which could mean the difference between life and death for critically injured patients. The faster the bleeding is stopped or controlled the better chance of survival.
Probably the most common MCI encountered is that of a motor vehicle accident with multiple victims. This can include a multiple car pile up on a highway with numerous victims in multiple vehicles or a high occupancy vehicle such as a tour bus or school bus. Standard buses can carry 55 passengers, but there are also double-decker buses that carry as many as 81 passengers.
What Does This Mean for the Dispatcher?
Information provided by 911 call handlers can trigger the incident commander decision to declare an MCI while in route to the scene. Generally the MCI is declared by the incident
commander on scene or the first arriving unit, but the IC’s decision can be made while in route based on the information available from 911 calls being received and as reported by the dispatcher. Many Dispatchers have worked a variety of incidents that can be classified as a mass casualty incident without realizing it. Remember it does not have to be a full blown crisis that ends up on the national news. If your jurisdiction is overwhelmed with the number of casualties – it is an MCI.
As soon as more details about the number of victims come in you are going to need ambulances from other jurisdictions. Every jurisdiction should have a mutual aid policy so you know who to contact for additional resources. Sometimes as a dispatcher you just have to think out of the box of your normal back up ambulance plans
Think of private ambulance companies in the area.Think of neighboring jurisdictions – not just the normal ones you rely on routinely. As soon as more details about the number of victims come in you are going to need ambulances from other jurisdictions. Every jurisdiction should have a mutual aid policy so you know who to contact for additional resources. Sometimes as a dispatcher you just have to think out of the box of your normal back up ambulance plans. Think of private ambulance companies in the area. Think of neighboring jurisdictions – not just the normal ones you rely on routinely.
Due to limited access in the field, Triage Teams and Transport Officers may need to rely on assistance from the dispatcher in tracking which hospitals to transport patients to. Hospitals will indicate availability of what patients they can take (red, yellow or green) and how many of each they can handle. Tracking which ambulances are transporting to the medical facilities and with what color of a patient they have on board, the dispatcher can keep track of the flow of patients at the hospitals.
Mass Casualty Incidents generally occur without notice and response to them must be rapid and effective. Decisions made during an MCI and response to an MCI can mean the difference between life and death. Therefore it is imperative that all agencies plan, prepare and train. Mass Casualty Incident response training is the best way to prepare 911 Dispatchers and Call Handlers for the challenges they will face.
Every jurisdiction should have an MCI plan in place. The plan should be current, and it is recommended that the plan be reviewed every 3 years. Mutual aid agreements should be in place and in writing.
Jurisdictions must plan for the worst MCI and practice those plans with personnel from various disciplines including emergency responders (police, fire, EMS), and include dispatchers in the training as well as hospital staff.
Is your center ready for an MCI? Do you have an internal plan of calling in extra staff to assist? You will be inundated with 911 calls; witnesses, victims, concerned family members and media.
The reality is that even if you train and plan for an MCI you are still going to be BUSY. But the training and planning you do before that happens will be evident in the decisions you make and the actions you take. Make sure you are ready when it happens to you. Going through the process on smaller MCI’s will help you perform when you need to on a large scale incident.
Enroll now and enjoy the benefits of learning when and where you want.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/20/health/colorado-shooting-emergency-response/, Elizabeth Landau, CNN July 20, 2012
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/24/indiana-massive-pileup-snow/4818625/, Larry Copeland, USA Today January 24, 2014
BRIAN ROKOS, The Press Enterprise | Monday, December 30, 2013
Multi-Casualty Incident By Rod Brouhard, EMT – P, Updated October 06, 2012
| From the September 2013 Issue | Thursday, August 8, 2013
The recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa and unexpected cases within the United States are a reminder of the concern for responder safety. Health care workers abroad are succumbing to the disease from exposure. A nurse at Crozer-Chester Medical Center reports that “In Liberia, Ebola is now called ‘the nurse killer disease.” There appears to be confusion on the part of CDC with respect to the protocols, the level and type of training for those health workers, and the availability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that assures complete protection. Further, the advice being given to exposed workers that permits them to travel on flights when they allegedly self-report a fever further indicates discrepancies in the CDC process. Now we see that Texas and Ohio have temporarily closed certain school districts because of some airline passengers possibly having exposure to the nurse who traveled with Ebola symptoms on that plane. Those passengers were students or had other connections to the school.
Fear is rampant, and even the threat of exposure creates heightened responses. So what is the call handler expected to do? Certainly the main purpose of the call handler is to assure scene safety with the reduction of risk for the patient and the responders. The CDC has recommended that PSAPs take responsibility for screening callers for risk factors associated with Ebola and notify responders of such before they show up at the scene. However, screening all calls for potential exposure to infectious diseases, such as Ebola, would burden the PSAP to the extent that needed services would suffer and response would be slowed to the detriment of callers who need immediate help. The CDC guidelines are clear, but the application of the guidelines for PSAPs is vague.
Undoubtedly PSAPs are taking the brunt of the Ebola panic from the citizens as well as the agencies they serve. An increase in calls to PSAPs is very typical during times of panic. Ebola is a contagious virus with a horrible prognosis – fear and anxiety are natural reactions. Call volume has most likely increased and the direction to manage this situation has been minimal. This is a challenge for those in emergency communications. Call takers are expected to remain vigilant, incorporate additional questioning, be considerate of the needs of the caller, and manage a multitude of routine tasks. We do need to consider the impact of this situation on those that are managing the public expectations and working to protect others.
Scientists have predicted that the Ebola Virus will have limited impact on the majority of the American population. The risk of Ebola exposure specifically isn’t a reality for most. That being said, we aren’t suggesting that a response isn’t warranted; rather we are suggesting that this situation be managed in respect to the level of risk. Ebola has heightened the awareness of the potential of exposure to fatal communicable diseases. We have to question, should we concentrate only on Ebola, or broaden the response to infectious diseases with potential deadly consequences such as Tuberculosis, pandemic flu, Ebola, and other hemorrhagic fevers?
Diseases, such as Influenza, have existed in our environment for several years and are responsible for thousands of deaths yearly. Considering this, and to answer the earlier question, we should be broadening our response and conducting a diverse assessment to screen for infectious diseases as the situations dictate. Additionally, this task needs to be done without overwhelming the call centers and without creating further alarm to the general public.
But, how do we accomplish these tasks? How do we know when a call comes in whether that person is likely to have one of these diseases that warrant a heightened response? EMS personnel are often unable to determine the patient history before having to administer emergency care. Therefore, this information must come from the PSAPs, which should be coordinating with healthcare facilities, and the public health system when responding to patients with suspected infectious diseases that pose a high potential for mortality. Therefore, call takers need to be trained to recognize the symptoms and conditions associated with serious infectious disease. Additional procedures to screen for potentially infectious diseases should be enacted when the combination of conditions indicate an elevated level of risk.
Ebola, Pandemic Influenza, Tuberculosis, and possibly others are reportable diseases that should be tracked by local and state health departments. Should these diseases manifest themselves in your area and you receive alerts from the State or local health department, you should be prepared to provide additional screening questions. You should establish a liaison with your local and state health department to receive notices of such diseases that may be appearing in your vicinity. For additional information contact your State Health Department. When the risk of Tuberculosis, Pandemic Flu, and Ebola are elevated in your community based on information from your local or state health department, it is important for PSAPs to modify caller queries to screen for potential exposure.
To learn more about these diseases, standard precautions, and questions to ask in an event, please read our white paper titled, “The Role of the Call Handler in the Face of Ebola and Other Emerging and Deadly Infectious Diseases”.
CBSPhilly, Local Nurses Speak Out About Ebola, October 16, 2014
USA Today, Experts say school closing in Texas, Ohio unnecessary, October 16, 2014
Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions, Virginia Department of health, 2014
Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions, Virginia Department of health, 2014
Are Railway Emergencies a Real Problem in the United States?
A series of attention getting, deadly train crashes around the world has raised new questions about the safety of rail travel in the U.S. and abroad. The railroad administration reported in 2012, there were 701 railway-related deaths in the U.S., most of which involved pedestrians being struck at crossings or cars smashing into trains.
If you examine the safety records of America’s railroads, it shows that collisions, fiery derailments, and other fatal incidents — like those in Canada, Spain, and France in recent months are becoming uncommon.
However, accidents involving trains carrying highly volatile oil and other chemicals has increased.
As domestic oil production has increased greatly in recent years, great quantities of oil are being transported by rail because of the lack of pipeline capacity. These trains travel through populated areas, causing concerns among residents over the hazards they can pose, including spills and fires.
About 400,000 carloads of crude oil traveled by rail last year to the nation’s refineries, up from 9,500 in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Recent accidents such as one in Quebec on July 2013 that killed 47 people and another in Alabama last November have brought many to question the safety of these shipments and have increased the pressure on regulators to seriously and quickly look at the safety of the oil shipments. Each year, about 15,000 train accidents occur. Common causes for train accidents can include:
- Drivers attempting to beat a train at a crossing
- Motor vehicles stuck on the tracks at a crossing
- Suicide attempts by persons
- Persons trespassing tracks
- Broken tracks and/or faulty rail switches causing trails to derail or strike each other
- Operator faults including high speeds around corners or dangerous intersections.
Train / Pedestrian Accidents
While the railroad industry noticed a decline in intersection accidents with motor vehicles the number of pedestrians fatally struck by trains in 2012 rose to the highest level in 6 years. According to data from the Federal Railroad Administration in 2012 there were 442 fatalities and also an additional 405 injured pedestrians which is a 10.4% increase. The railroad industry refers to these as “trespasser casualties” and noted the need for educating a distracted public in an effort to reduce these incidents. The railroad tracks and right of way belong to the railroad and pedestrians walking on them essentially are trespassing on railroad property.
Many pedestrians are distracted perhaps by music or cell phone devices and do not hear the train approaching. There have been several recent pedestrian-train incidents that are believed related to texting, and wearing ear phones while walking along the tracks or walking over crossings. Trains today are quieter than ever and the anticipated noise of a train may not be heard. Just as texting while driving is an issue on the highways; texting while walking is an issue on or near railroad tracks.
Train/Motor Vehicle Accidents
The most common type of railroad accident is railroad crossings involving cars or trucks. These are caused many times from drivers attempting to beat trains through intersections. There are also unfortunate circumstances that suicidal subjects park their car on the tracks. In addition there are times that vehicles may stall on the tracks, or get stuck or high centered on the tracks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.
The velocity of the train on impact and the weight of the train together is the primary cause of concern for the occupants of a motor vehicle. The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds or 200 tons and can weigh up to 6,000 tons. An analogy from Operations LiveSaver Inc, is that the impact of a “train hitting a car is the same as a car hitting a pop can
Train Derailment and Special Situations
Any train derailment has potential to be a major critical incident because of the weight of the train and the speed the train was traveling. Some can be minor however many times there are derailments that cause multiple injuries and loss of life to passengers on the train and also of the public where the derailment occurs.
If the train is a freight train and carrying hazardous materials the situation can escalate rapidly
A Baltimore County train derailment occurred because a truck went through the intersection and the train collided with it causing it to derail. Flames from the train ignited with chemicals on board, causing calls to flood the 911 center. Because the explosion was felt so far away, calls were received from neighboring communities that were not even within the immediate vicinity, yet the callers were sure it had occurred close by.
Runaway trains do actually occur and not just in the movies. It is believed that there are more runaway trains than what gets reported to the Transportation Safety Bureau (TSB). Instead, the majority of runaway train cases remain unreported publicly because they are categorized instead as derailments or collisions, without any indication that the train was rolling away uncontrolled at the time. According to the TSB if a runaway train causes a derailment or collision it will be reported as the higher consequence. The term the railroad and TSB refer to a runaway train is “rolling stock” There was a total of 121 incidents of runaway rolling stock both major and minor between 2003 and 2012 according to the TSB. A common cause in these incidents is in the braking system. In Lac-Megantic Quebec in 2013, an engineer left a train carrying crude oil without properly applying the brakes. The train rolled downhill and left the tracks crashing in the heart of the town. A series of explosions followed the crash killing 47 people .destroying 40 buildings, and spilling oil into the local waterways.
Accessibility to scene is another component with an emergency incident along the railroad. Not every incident is going to occur along a roadway or intersection where responders can easily drive to the location. For example a derailment might occur around a bridge or under a tunnel or even near water. Such was the case in the recent commuter train crash near Spuyten Duvil station in New York. The train derailed on a curve along the river where the Hudson and Harlem Rivers meet. Some of the cars stopped just inches from the edge of the water. 60 were injured and 4 were killed in this derailment. With multiple units responding to a confined space there is concern for accessibility to the scene.
Railroads have been transporting hazardous materials for many years. Due to increased regulations, and training the railroads have steadily decreased hazmat related incidents since the 1980’s. Approximately 99.998 percent of hazardous material carloads moving by rail arrive at their destination without a release caused by an accident, Rail hazmat accident rates have declined 91 percent since 1980. However accidents do occur. While there is concern for the environment the primary concern is for the safety of those on the train, the citizens in the area and the first responders. A train derailment recently occurred in Minot, North Dakota in which thousands of gallons of anhydrous ammonia leaked into the air killing one person and effecting the health of hundreds more. 911 dispatchers attempted to keep the citizens sheltered in place and keep them from inhaling the fumes as much as possible until help arrived.
Safety / Planning
Safety and planning issues include the maintenance of accurate lists of railroad contact lists in the area, railroad milepost maps, who to call to stop trains, and the use of correct protocols. Every dispatch center should have information available to them that would be useful when any type of railway emergency occurs. Do you know all of the railroad companies that operate within your response area? Do you know which tracks belong to which companies? This is important as you receive calls from the railroad, or regarding an emergency that you need to communicate with the proper railroad company. You must have a 24 hour emergency contact list for your specific railroad company and check and update these numbers regularly. Now that you are bit more knowledgeable about train equipment and the types of emergencies you might encounter you can be better prepared when you receive “that” call. Are you ready? Is your dispatch center ready?
We have a specific protocol that addresses train incidents and provides you with flexible questions and responses in any of the events we have just reviewed.
Enroll now and enjoy the benefits of learning when and where you want.
Train wrecks keep U.S. on safety track for world’s lowest fatality rate
By Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times; Monday, August 19, 2013
Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train, Energy & Environment,
The New York Times, By CLIFFORD KRAUSS and JAD MOUAWADJAN. 25, 2014
Controlled train collision – showing time it takes for train to stop.wmv
Tracksafe Foundation, NZ
Baltimore train derailment 911 calls
By Jay Korff, June 17, 2013 – 07:02 am ABC News
Statter911 is Powered by First Arriving Network,
FDNY radio traffic: Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx leaves 4 dead & 60 injured. Dec 2, 2013
The Dynamics of Domestic Violence
Our social definition of domestic violence is a pattern of learned behavior in which one person uses force to control another person. Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern. Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S. alone — the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. Nearly one-third of college students report physically assaulting a dating partner in the previous 12 months. As many as one quarter of female students experience sexual assault over the course of their college career. Approximately 90% of victims of sexual assault on college campuses know their attacker.
Every 9 seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
Domestic violence should no longer be considered a private family matter. With changes in laws, law enforcement is held accountable, both criminally and civilly, when appropriate action is not taken. Today, we hope that law enforcement agencies are better trained and have become more responsive and empathetic toward victims. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 was recently passed in the spring of 2013. This act significantly strengthens the ability of the federal government, states, law enforcement, and service providers to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. There are more protections on college campuses, as well, regarding dating violence.
The Dynamics of Sexual Assault and Date (Acquaintance Rape) and Tactics for Handling Calls
Sexual Assault is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced or forced to engage against their will, or any sexual touching of a person who has not consented. This includes rape (such as forced vaginal, anal, or oral penetration), groping, forced kissing, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.
Acquaintance Rape is the most common form of rape. Victims between 18 and 29 years old are the highest risk group for acquaintance rape. In half of acquaintance rape cases
the victim and rapist are somewhat familiar with one another, while 40% accounts for casual acquaintances. Acquaintance rape, which includes date rape, may also include party and gang rape.
Stalking is a crime. One in 12 women and one in 45 men are stalked at least once in their lifetime. Stalking is a course of conduct, a pattern of behavior, directed at a specific
person. It would cause any reasonable person to fear death or bodily injury. The pattern of behavior may include actions such as following that person on foot or in a vehicle, appearing at their home or work, repeated phone calls to them with or without a message, repeated written or electronic social media messages, texting, emails, unwanted gifts and packages, and vandalism to their property.
Students often have difficulty recognizing verbal and emotional abuse. College students may feel trapped by the social networks and closed environment of many campuses. Many students are away from home for the first time and not connected to their usual support systems. Victims of sexual assault face the threat of physical injury, unwanted pregnancy, contraction of sexually transmitted disease, as well as emotional and psychological trauma.
Your role as the telecommunicator when receiving a report of sexual assault should include: the following. Determine if the attacker is still present. Ask: When did the attack occur? Where is the location of the attack? Is it the same as the caller’s location? Inquire as to potential injuries. Was a weapon used in the attack? You should offer pre-arrival survival, medical, and instructions to preserve physical evidence as needed. Ask if there is there anyone of assistance with victim? Determine if the victim has knowledge of the attacker’s identity? Remember, in 90 percent of these cases on college, they know their attacker. Obtain descriptions of the attacker if possible.
Be prepared for virtually any type of emotional reaction by victims. Be unconditionally supportive and permit victims to express their emotions, which may include crying, angry outbursts, and screaming
Avoid interpreting the victim’s calmness or composure as evidence that a sexual assault did or did not occur. The victim could be in shock. (Note: False accusations of sexual
assault are estimated to occur at the low rate of 2 percent—similar to the rate of false accusations for other violent crimes.) Showing your outrage at the crime may cause victims even more trauma. Be careful not to appear overprotective or patronizing.
Remember that it is normal for victims to want to forget, or to actually forget, details of the crime that are difficult for them to accept. Be mindful of the personal, interpersonal, and privacy concerns of victims. They may have a number of concerns, including the possibility of having been impregnated or contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as the AIDS virus; the reactions of their spouse, mate, or parents; media publicity that may reveal their experience to the public; and the reactions and criticism of neighbors and coworkers if they learn about the sexual assault. Use active listening skills such as paraphrasing and open ended questions. Do not judge the validity of the victim’s report, actions, or feelings. Do not minimize the victim’s experience. Remember that it is normal for victims to want to forget details of the crime. Be mindful of the personal, interpersonal, and privacy concerns of victims. Ensure victims that responders are being dispatched. Offer pre-arrival instructions to preserve potential evidence on victim and at scene
Many victims are not thinking clearly after a sexual assault. We should attempt to persuade victims from cleaning themselves and the immediate area before responders arrive in an effort to preserve physical evidence: The victim should refrain from eating, drinking, brushing teeth, or rinsing their mouth. They should not change clothing (or bedding), bath, shower, or wash. They should not disturb the actual scene of the assault such as bed, couch, floor, or vehicle. They should avoid urinating, and should not disturb any objects that the attacker may have left at the scene.
Enroll now and enjoy the benefits of learning when and where you want.
Domestic Violence Statistics, 2014, Source: http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/domestic-violence-statistics/
Dating and Domestic violence on Campus, Break the Cycle,, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, Source:http://www.thesafespace.org/pdf/handout_dv_on_campus.pdf
New stalking laws will mean ordeal no longer ‘trivialised”, The Telegraph, Nov 26, 2012, Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9702572/New-stalking-laws-will-mean-ordeal-no-longer-trivialised.html
Domestic Violence Intervention Training for 911 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OcBbNVbbGs
What is Supervision?
The role of the Communication Supervisor in obtaining the organization’s objectives through subordinates. Supervision is defined as the act of overseeing people and influencing their
production and morale. The supervisor should define goals for the staff, counsel and coach the employees, keep superiors informed, and provide answers to job-related questions.
We can define the supervisors’ administration responsibilities using the acronym PODSCORB: Planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting.
Planning refers to Defining things that need to be done and forecasting needs
Organizing means Providing clear lines of authority and responsibility
Directing relates to Making decisions and giving directions
Staffing requires Recruiting, training, assigning, and retention
Coordinating refers to Ensuring unity of action between shifts
Reporting means Keeping administration informed, and
Budgeting is about Fiscal planning
Traits of the Communication Supervisor
The traits of a good communications supervisor include: being a good listener; being objective; showing no favorites; not being afraid to ask questions and showing interest in the operations; and making sure they are a decision maker and a good communicator.
They are trainers: they train and coach their staff to their full potential and greatest level of proficiency. They are personnel officers: they assign specific tasks to those most qualified in very specific areas. They are planners: they anticipate issues and problems and design a proactive approach for resolution. They should be leaders: persuasive, knowledgeable, have common sense, honorable, reasonable, and fair. They are also decision makers: they need to be decisive and verbalize what they want or need from their staff.
What are some of the traits found in superior leaders? They are personable. They display enthusiasm: they are still excited about the job. They have ambition: desire for themselves to succeed, and for those they lead to succeed, as well. They are diligent: they do whatever it takes. Integrity: they have a sense of direction, clear purpose, and goals.
They are intelligent. They use imagination and humor. They possess technical skills in that they have a reasonable understanding of what the job entails and can answer questions when staff comes to them with problems. They have faith, not only in themselves but in staff, as well. They have a sense of confidence. They use persuasion and tact. They are courteous toward staff members. Criticism is constructive and professional, and they criticize in private and praise in public.
Leadership is defined as the art of influencing, directing, guiding, and controlling others in such a way as to obtain their willing obedience, confidence, respect, and loyal cooperation in the accomplishment of an objective that is for the betterment of the agency as well as the community.
There are several various types of leadership styles. The autocratic leader is one who is highly authoritative and makes decisions without input. The democratic leader seeks ideas and suggestions from staff and allows them to participate in decision making that affects them. And then there is the free rein leader, who exercises just a minimum of control and seldom gives staff members the attention or help they need, lets them be by themselves and on their own.
The positive types of motivation for your employees include providing an opportunity for development; a challenging and interesting job; increased responsibility to employees; advancement if at all possible; fair treatment by supervisors; simple things such as titles, business cards, special projects to work on, voice mail, and email addresses; and recognition and praise, be it informal or formal.
Motivation vs. performance. Are they the same? No, they are not. Just because you have one doesn’t mean that you have the other. Motivation is intrinsic: it’s inward; it comes from within the individual. It is a sense of empowerment, responsibility, and personal growth and development.
What is “no cost” recognition? This recognition, praise, and motivator does not cost the agency or the supervisor anything but time and effort. Let the employees know up front. Use first names. Greet them by name. Give credit when credit is due. Have employees sit down and have a meal with the supervisors. Send employees to a training program that they feel they need, not one that they’re just being sent to. Listen. Recognize the team when appropriate. Have an employee attend a higher level meeting with a supervisor. Ask the employees, “What are you interested in doing? What do you see as a problem within the organization, and do you have a solution to that problem?” Offer thanks for a job well done.
The Frustrated Employee
Here are some guidelines for identifying the frustrated employee. Do you know the warning signs? Be alert to those that have a problem getting along with others. Their performance was once great, but now is deteriorating. They seem preoccupied. They miss or avoid calls. They have an increased number of conflicts and/or complaints from co-workers, supervisors, and the public, as well. Do we know how our workers feel?
What are the workplace symptoms of frustration? Direct verbal attacks is one symptom. Such attacks include excessive criticizing, belittling others, sarcastic or bossy behavior, talking back and insubordination to supervisors, picking arguments, faultfinding, and name calling. These should not be tolerated by the supervisor; these issues should be addressed and corrective action must be taken.
Indirect verbal attacks include rumor spreading, uncomplimentary stories or jokes, disparaging remarks, and racist comments. The employee may also exhibit non-cooperation. They destroy property, they waste things, and they take excessive breaks, more or longer than they are entitled to.
Do we prevent frustration? We first have to discover it and then attempt to remove it. Are we sure that our own supervisory techniques are not the cause of employee frustration? Do not be impatient or unreasonable. Maintain a tolerant and helpful attitude. Keep in touch with employee’s attitudes and moods. Keep the communication open. Keep employees informed about situations that affect them and tardiness should not be tolerated; it should be addressed.
Give additional attention to an employee who is not popular or feels inferior. Make sure they are not left out. Make assignments based on abilities. Patient, non-directive counseling to reduce anger, develop objectivity, and gain insight into the problem. Provide opportunity for a feeling of success. Try to catch them doing something right. It’s so easy to catch them doing something wrong. Professional counseling may be required, such as Employee Assistance Programs or other private programs through health benefits.
Enroll now and enjoy the benefits of learning when and where you want.
Goulart, N., Are You a Leader-Motivating?, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7O8s6NgAck
Cienlearning, Coaching and Mentoring Employees, Apr 13, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOsVvpK_67Y
Lawinfo, Bad Attitude in the Workplace, Aug 12, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKIybUKFXWY
Broadly defined, choking is the inability to breathe due to the constriction, obstruction, or swelling of the trachea (throat). Airway restriction may be caused by many different factors
including allergic reactions, medical conditions, or trauma. The focus of this blog will be choking that is due to airway obstruction– blockage caused by a foreign object in the airway.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking is one of leading causes of death or injury in children under the age of four. Young children are particularly prone to choking due to the small size of their airway. Witnessing a child or infant choking can be a distressing event. The call handler should be prepared to provide additional instructions to calm bystanders and help the patient.
Signs and Symptoms of Choking
The airway may become partially or completely obstructed by the foreign object. It is important for the emergency medical call handler to be able to recognize a partial obstruction from a complete obstruction and provide the correct pre-arrival instructions.
A partial obstruction is characterized by choking with good breathing. The person is able to speak. A sign of distress is that their eyes show fear. They experience forceful coughing. There is wheezing and gagging between coughs. They have a reddish face and will grab their throat. They may show drooling. A patient with a partially obstructed airway is still able to breathe as evidenced by the ability to cough, to speak, or to make sounds. The trachea is not completely closed off allowing for some breathing with the ability to speak remaining.
A complete obstruction is characterized by choking with little or no breathing. The person is unable to speak. A signs of distress is that their eyes show fear. Coughing is absent or weak. When trying to breath or cough they make a high pitched nose or no noise at all. They may have a greyish face and bluish lips and ears and will tend to grab their throat. A patient with a complete airway obstruction will not be able to speak, cough, or make sounds. Their skin may become cyanotic –with a bluish tint.
The Dispatcher’s Role
Considering the urgency of this type of medical call, rapidly conducting a patient assessment can cause some anxiety for the call handler – especially when a child is involved. However, using the Total Response call handling system can assist the call handler to successfully achieve this task. The following key information should be collected and relayed to responders immediately: Where is the Patient’s Location? What is the call back phone number? What is the Chief Complaint, and who is calling, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd party? (These are Initial Survey Questions)
What is the age of the victim? Are they alert?, What is their breathing status? (These are Vital Signs Questions)
The Dispatch Recommendation Priority will be based on Choking Status and so an Assessment of Partial or Complete Obstruction, and Alertness is required. (The Chief Complaint should be Choking Protocol for adult, child, or infant.). Immediately knowing the age of the patient will guide the call handler to the age appropriate procedures, Heimlich Maneuver or CPR, should these instructions be needed. Remember, The Heimlich Maneuver should not be attempted on an alert patient with a partial obstruction. Instead, the patient should wait as calmly as possible for help to arrive. If a second party is available, that person should watch the patient closely until help arrives. An alert patient that is actively choking, having difficulty or not able to breathe or cough, most likely has a complete airway obstruction.
Should the priority symptoms be present (actively choking, difficulty breathing, and altered level of consciousness) a HIGH prioritization of the dispatch recommendation for EMS responders would be appropriate. Should the patient be actively choking, able to breathe, talk, cough, or make sounds, a LOW prioritization of the dispatch recommendation for EMS responders would be appropriate.
The Heimlich Maneuver should be applied for a responsive (alert) patient with a complete airway obstruction. For a responsive adult patient (more than 8 years old) that is able to stand, instructions to apply abdominal thrusts should be given.
Should the patient be unable to stand, abdominal thrusts should be instructed while the patient is straddled. Attempts to dislodge the obstruction should continue until responders arrive or the patient becomes unresponsive.
Should an adult patient be identified as unresponsive during the initial survey or at any point during the call, the call handler should link to the Adult-CPR procedure. The CPR-Adult procedure provides the caller with instructions to assess responsiveness, open the airway, deliver rescue breaths, monitor circulation, and deliver chest compressions.
CPR should be delivered until the patient regains an open airway or responders arrive on the scene.
Learn more about Choking Protocols by enrolling now.
Choking first aid in children, http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca, Oct 25, 2013: http://youtu.be/0L3WupsK23w
Family health online: http://www.familyhealthonline.ca/fho/firstaid/FA_choking_FHa06.asp
Infant Choking and Infant CPR Demonstration, Apr 23, 2013: http://youtu.be/fkZA-C0hj6E