Exploring the Lived Experiences of 911 Dispatchers: A Phenomenological Study
911 dispatchers are considered the first of the first responders. Despite existing literature concluding 911 dispatchers experience rates of traumatic exposure similarly to other emergency service personnel, there is limited research regarding this population’s specific experiences. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of 911 dispatchers to determine the consistency of their experiences with the limited existing literature regarding trauma-related disorders among dispatchers. In this international study, a transcendental phenomenological research approach was utilized to describe the lived experiences and commonalities of the participants. Participants were primarily recruited through social media groups specifically for 911 dispatchers. Based on the findings from this study, six prominent themes emerged: (a) health issues, (b) juxtaposed positive and negative work environment, (c) passion and pride about work, (d) cumulative stress, (e) vicarious traumatization, and (f) strained interpersonal relationships. Limitations, recommendations for future research, and implications are discussed.
Keywords: 911 dispatchers, traumatic calls, posttraumatic symptoms, lived experiences