Every 9-1-1 call begins exactly the same. The dispatcher answers the call and calmly asks what the emergency is. For the length of the call, the emergency dispatcher is the voice of calm that assists the caller in managing the crisis until help arrives. Behind the soothing voice, adrenalin is pumping full force, as the dispatcher struggles to find the balance between hope and fear.

When emergency responders arrive on the scene, the caller gets immediate help in resolving the crisis. By the time the scene has cleared, emergency dispatchers may have taken a dozen more crisis calls with no time in between to decompress their adrenalin and emotions. The stress encompasses sharing the caller’s trauma, compounding that stress with repeated calls, and suffering the aftereffects of secondary trauma. Emergency dispatchers have the disadvantage of being exposed to on-the-job hazards such as compassion fatigue/burnout, cumulative stress, and secondary trauma. How prepared are you to manage physical, mental, and emotional strain? Begin by looking at the resources below:

What can I do to address mental health stigma in my organization?

Building resilience helps individuals adapt and overcome the effects of stress and trauma associated with dispatcher work. It not only helps us move past these events in a healthier manner, but also gives us positive traumatic growth following the event. Creating a self-care plan helps individuals to improve their immunity, increase positive thinking and make us less susceptible to stress, depression, anxiety and other emotional health issues.

How can I reduce the effects of trauma in my employees?

  • How to Build Resilience
    • A brief explanation of what resilience is, the importance building resilience, and ways you can build it to create a healthier and less stressful life.

  • Self-care Toolkit
    • When faced with challenges, we can use either positive coping strategies or negative coping strategies. Use this step-by-step guide to create a self-care plan that will help you practice positive coping strategies.

Dispatcher personnel are at a greater risk for developing negative mental and physical health consequences including depression, substance abuse, secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue and burnout. When dispatcher’s physical and mental health issues go unaddressed, job performance decreases, decision-making abilities are impaired, and agency costs increase. In other words, everyone should be invested in maintaining dispatcher’s wellness, because it has a direct impact on their ability to be effective.

How can I help my employees?

  • Resiliency Building Programs
    • Comprehensive Stress Management Toolkit
      • A Comprehensive Stress Management Program toolkit created by NENA (National Emergency Number Association) that will guide your organizations efforts in building resilient workforce.

    • Health and Wellness Toolkit
      • The resources in this section form a Health and Wellness Toolbox that are designed to help individuals recognize signs of possible trouble, and to be proactive about building positive habits and striving for good mental and physical health. These resources may be adopted by an individual or used to motivate a shift or agency to challenge themselves to work toward optimum health as a group.

  • Vicarious Trauma Informed Organizations
    • Vicarious Trauma Toolkit for Organizations
      • Vicarious trauma toolkit (VTT) focuses on organizational responses to work-related exposure to trauma. While some resources in the toolkit may be useful to individuals, the VTT is intended to provide organizations with the tools they need to fulfill their responsibility to support staff and become more vicarious trauma-informed

  • Peer Support Program
    • Supporting Mental Health in First Responders: Overview of Peer Support Programs
      • Overview of peer support programs for your department includes benefits and outcomes of peer support, components within a peer support program, the role, recruitment, and training of a peer support worker, and the challenges associated with implementing a peer support program.

    • Guidelines for the Practice and Training of Peer Support
      • Two sets of guidelines intended for policy makers, decision makers, and program leaders to provide direction about the practice of peer support are provided. We encourage prospective and practicing peer support workers to consider the set of guidelines as a roadmap for personal development, and we encourage administrators to consult the set of guidelines as they develop or enhance peer support programs within their organizations.

Continuous training and education, beginning in the academy and reinforced throughout the organization, will reduce the negative consequences a traumatic event will have on your employees.


  • 911 Training Institute
    • 911 Training Institute provides five trainings in Responder Resilience: Boosting Performance, Retention, Morale, & Quality of Life and five Mastery of 911 Calls: Mental Crisis for Optimal Performance and Scene Safety.

  • Resilience Training Institute
    • Explore the many resilience training courses to help grow your staff’s personal, professional and organizational resilience. Call 1-800-501-1245 to speak with a resilience training facilitators; they will conduct a needs assessment and suggest a resilience skills training program that’s right for your organization. Whether you’re considering a resilience training seminar, a Train-The-Trainer resilience program, or even a resilience keynote they can assist you in making the right selection.
  • Resilient Wisconsin Hidden Trauma Webinar
    • This exclusive training webcast for first responders explores adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress, risk factors for trauma and stressors, signs of struggle, stigma, and resources for self-care.
  • REBOOT Recovery Trauma Healing Course
    • REBOOT is a 12-week trauma healing course for those within the law enforcement, fire, EMS, emergency communications, hospital emergency departments and corrections communities. At groups across the country, first responders and their families are healing, divorce rates are dropping, substance abuse is decreasing, and suicide numbers are being reduced.