That probably sounds like I'm whining and, to a certain extent, I guess I am but I feel that every once in awhile I'm entitled to that. I try not to do it on a regular basis as I know full well that whining gets a person nowhere and only annoys those around us within earshot but I also think that occasional whining is good for the soul. Of course, having now put that in print, I rather expect Amanda to pull it out and use it against me on a fairly regular basis! "But, Mom, you said it's okay to whine sometimes ..."!!
That said - back to work and not feeling appreciated lately ... I have been putting in A LOT of hours at work for the past, well, geez, I can't exactly remember HOW long but it's been a long time as we've been short-handed for quite some time in addition to Jen being out on maternity leave, etc. It's the nature of the beast in dispatch centers to generally have trouble being up to staff and staying up to staff because it's not a job for everyone - you have to be certifiably insane to want to make dispatching your career and a lot of people get into it only to find that it's not their cup of tea at all. Dispatch is sort of like an iceberg - what you see on the surface is nothing compared to what lies beneath. And if I thought that dispatching for a municipal police or fire department was tough - it's nothing compared to dispatching at a commerical ambulance/Emergency Medical Serivce provider.
In an article on Emergency Medical Dispatching by The National Academies of Emergency Dispatch, Dr. Jeff Clawson, father of EMS dispatching and founder of the Academy states:
"Dispatchers, in a way, are responsible for the overall flux of what's happening in the system. They are in charge of every scene until someone else gets there. No one knows more about a call than the dispatcher because that's the only person who has talked to someone at the scene. Once EMS arrives, there's a new commander. Dispatchers have to be multitasking, fairly unflappable, and have to provide leadership and empathy to people who are in the midst of a crisis. On paper, their job is more complex than a field responder's - not more important or harder, but more complex. They change hats a lot in what they do."You don't schedule calls for police or fire, you don't worry about insurance and billing information, you don't deal with a spreadsheet that resembles a large Tetris puzzle as you try to drop calls onto it in a manner that fits the times facilities want but is also fair to all of the road crews, and you don't worry about a myriad of other things that were completely foreign to me when I started at American. I may have had close to ten years experience under my belt when I took the job at American but it was nothing like I had dealt with before. I can remember sitting behind the console when I first started and thinking "I will never, ever in a million years be able to do this job". It scared me, it intimidated me, it challenged me.
But I did learn the job and I think I learned it well. I'm not perfect - no one is - but I try my best every single time I sit down behind that console. I take my job seriously, I take the performance of my job seriously, and I expect the people that I work with to take it seriously also. This isn't just a job for me - it's a career - and it defines a very big part of who I am. I am a dispatcher. From time to time I have been told that I'm a damned good dispatcher and because of that I try very hard to live up to that reputation. Not necessarily because I don't want to let other people down but because I don't want to let myself down.
Of course, like anyone in any job I occasionally like to be told that I'm doing a good job, that I'm important to the company, that I'm appreciated but lately I don't feel like I've been getting that. I know we're shorthanded, I know my supervisor is stressed out, I know there's a lot going on but how hard would it be for him to say "thank you for the extra effort"? I'm not a machine, I'm not putting in 56-hour weeks just for my own benefit - I'm trying to be a team player but right now I'm losing my enthusiasm and motivation.
There's a very real thing amongst emergency dispatchers called "dispatcher burn-out" and it's an occupational hazard that all of us in this business are susceptible to. I know enough about it to know that I'm probably pretty close to it right now but I also know that it can be prevented. Recognizing it is half the battle and I think I've done that.
Now the next step is to take a break and relax a bit. To that end, I am not working either of my two days off this week or next week or even the week after and I am going to do as little as possible while I'm home. It's hard for us "Type A" personalities to do but I am going to be completely and totally lazy for the next two days and I am not going to feel the least bit guilty about it! It might not be a complete and total cure for not feeling appreciated but it's a start ... right, Cyndi??