Updated: Jul 5, 2020
Ryan Dedmon, 911 Training Institute
It’s January 1st. Congratulations, you made it through another year! It’s time to make those New Year’s resolutions. Oh yes, the resolutions… the things we commit to doing differently to improve various areas of our lives. Everyone gets so excited about their resolutions. They tell their families, friends, and make posts on social media about all the changes they’re going to make in the new year. Dispatchers, and other first-responders, are no different. But it’s always the same old thing.
What are you going to do to take better care of yourself this year? The answer is generally the same: “I’m gonna eat better, get more sleep, and exercise more.” Eat. Sleep. Exercise. These are the resolutions many people make every new year. The problem is that these types of resolutions only address physical wellness and are largely based on the visual image we see in the mirror. Dispatchers need to do more than that to survive and thrive.
It’s no secret that public-safety emergency communications is a tough job that takes a heavy toll. Dispatchers are exposed to significant amounts of trauma and stress when they answer 9-1-1 calls and manage emergency radio traffic. That trauma and stress can manifest in very ugly forms if left unchecked, which is why dispatchers need a more holistic approach to improve their wellness, rooted deeper than just the physical image they see in the mirror.
You can be in great physical shape, but still be unfit as a whole person. We know dispatchers have a sedentary job sitting at consoles behind computers, so of course physical fitness is the first thing that comes to mind. But mental and emotional fitness are equally as important, but often overlooked because those are things you can’t see in the mirror.
This January, we celebrate the first anniversary of the Survive & Thrive Fit Challenge. The challenge, created and developed by Jim Marshall, is a partnership between the 911 Training Institute and Within the Trenches Podcast. Jim Marshall and Ryan Dedmon partnered with Ricardo Martinez, Creator of Within the Trenches Podcast and Founder of the #IAM911 Movement, to encourage dispatchers, and all other first-responders, to join them to improve overall health, wellness, and the quality of life at home and work.
Since January 2018, nearly 400 first-responders have joined the challenge and shared their fitness journeys in the "Survive & Thrive Fit Challenge Crew" on Facebook. The Survive & Thrive Fit Challenge goes beyond physical fitness. It is a holistic approach that inspires dispatchers and field-responders to examine their levels of physical, mental, and emotional fitness. People in the group share creative ways they have found to make changes in their lives to improve the balance; the balance that is vital to improving overall personal wellness.
If you’re a first-responder in the communications center, on the road, or in the jails, and you’re still looking for a 2019 New Year’s resolution, consider joining us. We help one another improve personal wellness to become more fit to face the challenges of our crazy jobs in public-safety. And if we improve personal wellness doesn’t that translate to professional performance? If you’re personally healthy and feel good, aren’t you a better employee? Now that’s a resolution worth making to survive & thrive into 2019.