Public safety organizations are known to use training programs as a way to toughen up candidates and weed out those who aren’t cut out for the stresses of the job. But, does that approach actually result in the best performing call handlers or departments? With national emergency communications employment turnover rates ranging from 17% to as high as 25%, and a cost to train an employee at $52,000, the financial impact of this style of recruitment is high. And the human cost is even higher, with burnout, depression and PTSD as common events among dispatch staff. An alternate approach, focusing on positive reinforcement, intends to reverse those trends and create healthier working environments and more resilient employees.
Survival of the Fittest
In public safety we have a reputation for eating our young; many who start out in the profession fail to remain. There is an assumption that new employees are toughened up by training. It is a
n approach that is similar to the military’s: break them down and build them back up our way; those that endure are fit for duty. However, unlike the military, the “build them back up” step doesn’t always happen in the emergency communications environment. And the profession is showing the negative effects.