After the Webinar: Stress Relief in Communications. Q&A with Tracy Ertl

Webinar presenter  Tracy Ertl answered a number of your questions after her presentation,  Stress Relief in Communications. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Do you have any recommendations for books? Especially on dealing with fear like you were talking about. But I would just broaden this also to all the amazing topics to cover today.

Tracy Ertl: I do. So, there is a book: The Gift Of Fear by Gavin Becker.  You all need to read that book… every person working in public safety and every person working to support public safety needs to read that book. And if you e-mail me, I’d be happy to send you a list of other fear-related books, but I’m very cognizant of people’s time. And I know you’re low on time, you need to read The Gift To Fear, you start with that, and if you want more, I’ll e-mail you.


Audience Question: Tracy, the survey tested for burnout, satisfaction, and secondary trauma. And I know you share just the averages. But do you have typical scores for people in dispatch, or in the criminal justice profession? Or maybe a different way to ask this is, what do you typically see the themes are in dispatch or law enforcement, how do you see them scoring, typically, when you implement this survey in? Because admittedly, criminal justice is unique. 

Tracy Ertl: Yes. So, within public safety, within criminal justice, we see high levels of burnout, higher levels than in the regular public. That’s why we’re really pushing right now with legislation to reclassify, where it’s not already happened, especially for those working in 911, re-classify 911 telecommunicators, so that it’s recognized the high level of stress that were impacted by. But if you look at all of public safety, we see very high scores typically within burnout, we see high scores within compassion fatigue as well. And we also see higher scores within secondary trauma, which is why we need all of these tools. And we need to try different things to work within ourselves, and within our teams, and we need to really focus on it. Because we do have, we do have higher levels. And we always will, we always will, it’s negative input coming in, continuous, and not a lot of positives. So, we have to find some way to create balance within ourselves. And within our organizations, within our public safety families.


Audience Question: How does shift work or interrupted sleeping schedules impact how well we deal with stress and trauma on the job? 

Tracy Ertl: It impacts us very deeply. So, I will share with you and this is personal. But I think it’s important to always just be real. I am 1.5 years retired operationally from 911, but of course, working full-time training with hero light. I am set up for a sleep study in March. I spent half of my career on the night shift, worked with a lot of broken sleep. My husband works the night shift. And my sleep isn’t great. And so, it’s very, very common. We work shift work. Some of you work swing shifts. Some of you may alternate, maybe for three months you’re on night shift for three months, you’re on day shift. All of that affects us. And then that affects our stress levels, it affects our body’s ability to withstand the stress. What is needed is even higher self-care. And even higher care as a team. That’s why those of you who are in leadership positions, or if you were working for a governmental agency and you’re in supportive roles, we really need to have eyes on our people. And be watching for symptoms and be able to swoop in with resources because we’re going to see more problems with sleep. Sleep deprivation symptoms are very common within public safety. So many of you don’t like to go to the doctor, but you need to go. And so, I’m trying to be, I didn’t plan on sharing this will be a good example in this moment. I’m going. I’m not especially looking forward to it, but I need a little bit of support in this area, so that I can continue to train and be healthy.

Host: So,  I’m going to mention this webinar that we have coming up towards the end of the month, on February 22nd folks. If you’ve never heard her speak, her name is Dr. Lois James. She is a sleep expert at Washington State University, and she is doing a webinar, How to Improve Sleep Hygiene and Reduce Your Fatigue.  I hope all of you can join.

Tracy Ertl: She has some great videos. I’m familiar with her. In fact, she’s someone, I didn’t know that she was going to be part of our family Justice Clearinghouse family. But I’m definitely going to, I’m definitely going to check her out because she is someone who has been quietly encouraging just through her work for me to be able to go out there and recognize, I need a little bit more support in this area so I can be healthy for my extended team.


Audience Question: How can we bring more stress training or at least stress awareness to our agencies?

Tracy Ertl: Well, my first answer would be Hero Light Training provides stress-related training. And sometimes I bring Rebecca Hubbard with me who’s a trauma-based therapists out of Austin, Texas. But I’m very realistic. So, first of all, you’ve attended the webinar, so that helps provide some basic information to kind of get started. What I want to share with you is that you can create free training. You may have to pay your people to attend the training. But all of your work within public safety communities, where you have experts within your communities that you can tap to help. So, you need to reach out. Many of you have EAP available to you or employee assistance programs. You contact your EAP. And you ask for a speaker to come in and I created at my home agency ————– Public Safety Communications, I created in services that cost us nothing. Bringing in experts that we had access to, again, there’s going to be some cost related to relieving people off the floor or off the road to be able to attend the training. But you can use experts within your own resources, to be able to create the training. And then obviously, as you can bring in other training experts. Other training companies to be able to kind of augment that training.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Stress Relief in Communications.  

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