Emergency call centers across the country are preparing for the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) initiative, which will allow citizens to place 9-1-1 calls using digital technologies such as text messaging, email, Skype or instant messaging, and will expand emergency information sources to also include streaming video, photo uploads, and automatic crash notifications. The impact of these new information and communication technologies on the psychological well-being of those tasked with using them in time sensitive emergency situations remains unknown. Of great concern to 9-1-1 call center managers is whether the changes associated with NG9-1-1 will affect call center organizational structure, increase stress, reduce job performance, contribute to maladaptive coping strategies or reduce the resilience of workers who must adapt to the new technologies. There are currently no evidence-based training recommendations for emergency telecommunicators in general, or specific to NG9-1-1. Resiliency training has been shown to be effective in mitigating stress in firefighters and paramedics and improving their ability to adapt to and overcome the challenges of both routine and high-stress exposures. The implementation of NG9-1-1 presents the opportunity to measure the impact of technological changes on emergency telecommunicators and to explore, through a randomized controlled design, whether resiliency training tailored to the unique needs of emergency call center personnel will reduce any negative impacts of NG9-1-1 implementation on telecommunicator stress and job performance. Finally, detailed data on 9-1-1 call center organizational structure, work processes, telecommunicator stress and response to trainings collected through this project will be utilized to build an agent-based modeling tool to simulate 9-1-1 call center environments to improve decision making around future workforce needs.
Emergency call center personnel are often the first contacts for people in distress. The proposed project has the potential to improve the health of the 9-1-1 telecommunicator workforce through evidence-based, tailored resiliency training and development of a tool for emergency call center managers to use to assist in decision making around 9-1-1 call center workplace challenges.