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Growing Pains & Follower Gains...

A Few Tweaks

Well folks, we're changing things up a bit. Sometimes, you don't know how well something is going to work for you until after you see it in action. Now that our Facebook page has been live for a few weeks, we can see some of the major differences between how a PAGE functions versus how a GROUP functions. Allow me to dazzle you with the details...

A PAGE is designed for us to talk to you. We post, you respond. There's a separate section where you can post messages, but it doesn't appear on the main wall and there are limitations as to what you can post. Most people aren't even aware of this functionality, so the few people that do post don't get many responses, if any at all.

A GROUP is designed for everyone to talk to everyone. All posts and messages are on the main wall and there are no limitations. It also allows for document sharing - something that's important to us because we want to be one of your most valuable resources. it's just easier for us all to talk to each other! Visual learners, it's okay if you're still scratching your head, I got your back! If you get the gist of it all, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs. (It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book!)

One of my personal favorite dispatcher-related Facebook PAGES is Nocturnal Dispatchers. Notice the only thing you see on their wall are their posts. Nobody else's - just theirs. Follower posts are under the Community tab. You're limited to one picture, and I don't believe you're allowed to post video. Bummer. Did you even know that tab existed or what it was for?

I'm pretty sure they realized the same differences that we did, because they got smart and also created a GROUP called Nocturnal Dispatchers: Life In The Dark. This GROUP is closed and you have to apply to become a member by answering just a few basic questions. You'll notice this GROUP allows all of its members to post whatever they want, without limitations.

We should have created a group. I initially dismissed that idea because I didn't want the extra step of requiring you all to answer questions (again, basic ones), or give the illusion that we're some sort of secret society that only dispatchers are welcome to. While the downside to GROUPS is you answering a question or two, the plus side is that it helps keep the riffraff out. The bottom line is that we're hindering your participation by placing limits on how you can interact with us and each other.

Sooooo... we created a group! Yay! We'll be working hard to send direct invites to all our current PAGE followers to make it easier for you. For everyone else, we hope that you won't mind answering a few simple questions to help you get the most out of your experience with Humanizing the Headset! Click here to join. Do it. Right meow. Once the page is ready, we will start accepting those requests.

In related news, we are just shy of 500 followers on Facebook! Not too shabby for our first 3 weeks - help us reach that milestone by liking us if you haven't already!


The APCO Conference

The APCO Conference was absolutely amazing, and the the Venetian (where it was held) did not disappoint. Some of my favorite scenes from inside are in the slideshow below. It was my first time at an APCO Conference, and I left full and inspired with tons of ideas to bring back to both work and HTH.

I attended some amazing sessions, even some that didn't necessarily relate to my agency. I sat in on a session about the national response to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In another session, I learned about the dispatcher response to a terrorist attack on a college campus. Perspective from other agencies is important to me, and there are always lessons that can be learned and taken back.

I learned more about the importance of Critical Incident Stress Management, critical incident training, and how to cope with traumatic events. One of the biggest takeaways for me here was that the trauma that we experience from calls is a normal response to an abnormal event. See?! You're normal, sometimes we just need a little help getting through that trauma - and that's normal, too!

I also went to some great sessions about building workplace morale (something I am passionate about), workplace bullying, and toxic personalities. Toxicity is a very real thing and it can affect us in ways we don't even realize. In such a stressful work environment, this is just something we don't need!

I met with the APCO Editorial Committee, for which I am a new member. For all of you APCO members, that means I'll be writing for the PSConnect magazine that you all receive every couple months. We chugged away at the topics we're going to cover for 2019, so keep an eye out for that and me!

I will say, you won't understand the definition of "dry heat" until you're there. Back home in Illinois, if it's higher than 85 degrees and humid, you probably won't catch me outside (how bout dat? I know, awful joke). So, while it was literally 110 degrees in Vegas, I wasn't walking around like a miserable, sweaty hog.

Inside, however... how do I put this nicely? It was f**king freezing. It wasn't like a mildly inconvenient cold, either. It was unforgiving, and the desire to set things on fire was starting too become to attractive to resist.

By the third day, I couldn't deal with it anymore. I literally left a luncheon I paid extra for, walked to the closest gift shop, dropped 60 bucks a hoodie (that I was surprised they even had), and returned, warm, to the luncheon. It was the best money I ever spent. Let me tell you, it was so cold inside that I even wore that thing outside because that 110 degrees wasn't warming me up fast enough! I know I looked crazy, and I didn't care - I was warm, dammit! So, that hoodie that you see in the pic below - that's the one, in all of its $60 glory. I have dubbed it my formal hoodie, and told my fiance' to bury me in it. That thing is going with me!

Listen guys, I had to pay my own way and use my own benefit time in order to go, and I'm telling you it was worth every cent. I strongly encourage you to attend next year in Baltimore if you can. Maybe we'll see you there!

Who else was at the conference? What was your favorite session? Tell us about your experience in the comments!


Upcoming Stories & Features

Our goal was, and still is, to bring you a new blog once a week. Some unforeseen circumstances have prevented us from being as timely as we wanted, but we're quickly learning how to adapt by being as active as we can across our other social media platforms - which you can go to our website's front page to learn more about.

We have some great features from our amazing admin team coming soon. Norm is hitting us up with a piece on negative self-talk (you're not "just a dispatcher"). Cori is going talk to us about some creative ways that she decompresses after a difficult day. Neva, a published author and fantastic storyteller, will be talking about the one call that affected her the most. I'm still working on the interview with two recent retirees - that's one of the blogs we had some big timing issues with.

For October, I've got a story on dispatcher health and wellness featuring me and my coworker/friend Juan Acevedo. Combined, we've lost 100 pounds, and we're not done yet! In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we're going to have a very special story from another dispatcher/friend, Leslie White, who is going to grace us with her personal story on being a survivor.

One of my wonderful former social work professors, Cheri Sinnott, LCSW, will be writing a piece for us on the science of addiction. Yes, there is a science behind it and from comments I've observed on the interwebs, there is still somewhat of an old-school mentality behind what addiction is and what it does to your brain. That mentality along with the associated stigma surrounding it could be the very reason why some people are too afraid to get help. Quite frankly, that person could be you. Many of us have personally seen loved ones struggle with addiction, so I think we can agree that those suffering from it are people worthy of dignity and respect. We need to break that stigma.

Remember, if you need help, we have a resource link on our page you can visit to find what you need. You may also consider taking advantage of your employer's wellness program if you have one. I've heard many great success stories, and it truly is confidential.


That about covers it for now. As you can see, we've got a ton of stuff planned, and we thank you for sticking with us during these growing pains! Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, ideas on things you'd like to see, topics you'd like us to cover, or concerns by clicking here. You can also quickly create an account to leave comments below.

~ Brendhan

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