By Tracey Barron
Emergency dispatch research is fast becoming a major topic for EMS inquiry worldwide, and whether it was talking about, listening to, or participating in, NAVIGATOR was the place to be for discovering what’s happening from many different perspectives.
The annual Research Poster Contest attracted 12 entries, with the winning research poster award going to a team from Italy and accepted by the study’s Principal Investigator Dr. Andrea Furgani, an Emergency Medical Doctor at the San Martino University Hospital of Genoa, Department of Emergency and Acceptance, Genoa (see story in NAVIGATOR coverage section).
The Academy’s research booth in the exhibit hall was one of the busiest hubs at the conference, offering participation in several projects, plus serving as the starting point for a scavenger hunt featuring a Kindle Fire as the top prize to the winner. The hunt concentrated on prior and current issues of the Annals of Emergency Dispatch & Response (AEDR) (www.aedrjournal.org), the Academy’s peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Two surveys underway at the booth queried participants about emergency dispatch training and work-related stress at communication centers.
Jordan Sebresos, Senior Instructional Designer at Priority Dispatch Corp. (PDC), teamed up with the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) research group to conduct a survey related to dispatch training methods, targeted at non-management calltakers and dispatchers. The results from the 17-question survey are considered a baseline in establishing successful training methods aligned with the specific needs and preferences identified.
University of Central Florida graduate student Madeline Marks flew in from Florida, representing a group of six researchers conducting an investigation into burnout, stress, and turnover in the communication center. Principal Investigators Clint Bowers, Ph.D., and Mindy Shoss, Ph.D., are with the university’s psychology department. Bowers is Director and Principal Investigator of the university’s laboratory dedicated to research in team processes and performance. Shoss directs the Work Stress in Context Lab, which works toward understanding employee well-being and behavior, and has addressed issues of burnout and professionalism within medical training environments.
Bowers and Marks also gave a presentation in the Stress Management track at NAVIGATOR titled, “Sleep Better: Tips to Stop Going Through Life Like a Zombie.” Marks, who worked as an EMT prior to graduate school, said her research interest is in the mind-body interaction related to stress, recognizing symptoms, and finding ways to prevent symptoms that could lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
She said the symptoms are the warning—although not always recognized—and are consequently not often treated until the PTSD diagnosis is made.
Marks’ survey at NAVIGATOR looked at domains within emergency communications that could, alone or in combination, adversely affect the individual. The domains include workload demands, interaction among peers and with management, and coping with stress after the person experiences a traumatic or stressful event as a dispatcher. Demographic information identified place of employment, position, and current responsibilities at the job.
“We’re interested in the culture of an organization,” Marks said. “We want to get a better idea of what’s going on, and NAVIGATOR offers a great opportunity to collect survey information from a variety of centers.”
Encouraging research into emergency dispatch at NAVIGATOR were Isabel Gardett, Ph.D.; Chris Olola, Ph.D.; Greg Scott, MBA, EMD-QI; and Tracey Barron, MCPara, EMD-I; all are members of the IAED research and academics team. Fundamental principles of research, data analysis, and peer-review were covered in pre-conference sessions, while the formal conference discussions featured IAED research updates—original research studies conducted since the 2015 NAVIGATOR. The Council of Research meeting brought more than 20 researchers from various countries and proposals for research involving stroke, situational awareness, and QA/QI.
The survey is still available for those who would like to participate in the study at www.surveymonkey.com/r/dispatch_trainees.