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Thread: Hearing problem

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    Unhappy Hearing problem

    My dispatch career was on the short side because I had difficulty hearing the radio clearly. This slowed my ability to multi-task and that, coupled with a training dispatcher who didn't like me, forced me to resign. My hearing test was normal. I have the same trouble when I listen to the TV or scanner. Anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Xdispatcher
    My dispatch career was on the short side because I had difficulty hearing the radio clearly. This slowed my ability to multi-task and that, coupled with a training dispatcher who didn't like me, forced me to resign. My hearing test was normal. I have the same trouble when I listen to the TV or scanner. Anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions?

    What type of hearing test were you given? What did the DR say about your problem hearing the TV, scanner etc? Sounds like you had a problem similar to my grandmother - she had to have these tubes inserted in to her ears so that things didnt sound "mumbled" to her.

    I have found people who have not dispatched before have to "learn" to hear the radio. New people often say " what did they say?" or " what unit was that?". Once they have been on the radio a week or so they can "hear" just fine.
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
    EMT-B

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    What type of hearing test were you given? What did the DR say about your problem hearing the TV, scanner etc? Sounds like you had a problem similar to my grandmother - she had to have these tubes inserted in to her ears so that things didnt sound "mumbled" to her.

    I have found people who have not dispatched before have to "learn" to hear the radio. New people often say " what did they say?" or " what unit was that?". Once they have been on the radio a week or so they can "hear" just fine.
    The test consisted of having the Dr. inspect my canal with a scope and then sitting in a soundproof booth acknowledging low and high frequency tones. Since my test scored normal, he didn't recommend any treatment including a hearing aid to amplify sound.

    Years ago, when I earned a pilot's license, I "learned" to hear the radio because ATC communications often uses standard phraseology. However, even then there was an occasion when I thought the ATC said to turn immediately after takeoff when in reality he told me not to turn until reaching the airport boundary. Unfortunately, 911/police communications arenít as standard and it didn't help when the police unit started talking before he keyed his mike.

    The other dispatchers knew the police units by the sound of the officer's voice and that worked toward their advantage. I gave it my all and it broke my heart to give up the position when I was the one candidate out of fifty that received a chance to have my 'dream' job.

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    If you discussed the problem hearing the radio (and TV, etc) with your Dr and didn't get anywhere, it might be worthwhile getting a second opinion. (I'm assuming you went to an Otolaryngologist.)

    You're right about the advantage "seasoned" dispatchers have in recognizing voices, but that's just part of the "seasoning."

    If you are able to find a solution for your hearing problem, I'd suggest going for another dispatch job. Since you have a better idea of what the job entails now, you should have an advantage starting out.

    I hope you're able to work something out with your hearing. Good luck
    Joe O'Keefe

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    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    I looked at this the other day but didnt post until now. Lets suffice it to say that I am famillar with this situation. By not "hearing" the radios, phones, other units on other channels calling, it causes me (your partner) to work harder to carry your weight. May sound kinda harsh, but people with hearing problems can hamper operations, even more so when it is REALLY busy. I think with a normal hearing test that you were having trouble getting acclimated to the dispatch environment, I wish you good luck and hope that you have a better situation next time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOKeefe
    it might be worthwhile getting a second opinion.
    If you are able to find a solution for your hearing problem, I'd suggest going for another dispatch job. Since you have a better idea of what the job entails now, you should have an advantage starting out.

    I hope you're able to work something out with your hearing. Good luck
    I think you're right. Thanks for the encouragement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weruj1
    I looked at this the other day but didnt post until now. Lets suffice it to say that I am famillar with this situation. By not "hearing" the radios, phones, other units on other channels calling, it causes me (your partner) to work harder to carry your weight. May sound kinda harsh, but people with hearing problems can hamper operations, even more so when it is REALLY busy. I think with a normal hearing test that you were having trouble getting acclimated to the dispatch environment, I wish you good luck and hope that you have a better situation next time.
    I agree with your comment about carrying my weight. However, I am not yet convinced that my problem is "getting acclimated." If further medical evaluation reveals that my hearing is in fact normal, then you are right. Otherwise, if a hearing problem does exist, it's likely the culprit. Thanks for the kind words in your conclusion.

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    Question

    JOKeefe:

    If a hearing problem is diagnosed and corrected (using a hearing aid, etc.) do you think that any department would consider hiring me with such a preexisting condition? Or, would they shy away from me just like the airlines do with candidates who have 20/20 CORRECTED vision?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xdispatcher
    JOKeefe:

    If a hearing problem is diagnosed and corrected (using a hearing aid, etc.) do you think that any department would consider hiring me with such a preexisting condition? Or, would they shy away from me just like the airlines do with candidates who have 20/20 CORRECTED vision?
    I wanted to ask how long did they give you during training to evaluate you? How long and how did they come to the conclusion it was a pysical hearing problem vs new to the job. You mentioned problems with units clipping themselves which is not a hearing problem on your part.
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
    EMT-B

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    I wanted to ask how long did they give you during training to evaluate you? How long and how did they come to the conclusion it was a pysical hearing problem vs new to the job. You mentioned problems with units clipping themselves which is not a hearing problem on your part.
    P/T (24 hrs/week) for about 8 weeks. Much harder to remember their dispatch software operation and dispatch procedures when the work periods are scheduled for 4 to 6 hours. I was suppose to get the equivalent of 90 days FT, 8 hours per day. Two dispatchers are expected to handle all 911 and routine calls, all walk-ins, dispatch 6 police units, 3 different fire companies, and two ambulance companies, for a town of 35,000 residents.
    Since I believed that my multi-tasking was hampered by my difficulty in hearing the radio, the department sent me for a hearing test. When it came back normal, they said that my progress was inadequate. I resigned because I had given it my all and it wasn't good enough. Incidentally, it didn't help trying to learn in a hostile work environment with my training dispatcher treating me harshly.

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    I have a profound hearing loss and I know from going to many many audiologist visits that not all audiologits are created equal. I know I managed to score much higher on one of my audiology tests one year as a teenager simply after I realized the tester visibly moved their right arm to initiate the tones for the test. This may sound bizarre, but I know that I've also sub-conciously "heard" the tones when I realized the tester was pressing the button even though I could NOT have heard them at all.

    Question: do you have tinnitus or any type of ringing in the ear? Also, are you the type of person who forgets when people tell you things but you can remember them just fine when you read it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xdispatcher
    P/T (24 hrs/week) for about 8 weeks. Much harder to remember their dispatch software operation and dispatch procedures when the work periods are scheduled for 4 to 6 hours. I was suppose to get the equivalent of 90 days FT, 8 hours per day. Two dispatchers are expected to handle all 911 and routine calls, all walk-ins, dispatch 6 police units, 3 different fire companies, and two ambulance companies, for a town of 35,000 residents.
    Since I believed that my multi-tasking was hampered by my difficulty in hearing the radio, the department sent me for a hearing test. When it came back normal, they said that my progress was inadequate. I resigned because I had given it my all and it wasn't good enough. Incidentally, it didn't help trying to learn in a hostile work environment with my training dispatcher treating me harshly.
    If you honestly believe you were in a "hostile work environment" and you think you were wrongfully fired then get a lawyer.

    I am a CTO for my agency and I will be very tough on trainees, I wouldn't use the word harsh, but I'm strict/stern. I'm not there to be their buddy.

    If your hearing test came back normal, then that gave the agency the green light to say "Well, there isn't a medical reason for his slow progress, so he must not be responding to training."

    8 weeks covers only half of our training period, so we would not let someone go that early on... You were 8 weeks into a 12 week training program, that is slightly different.

    Regardless, if your still interested then go see another Dr, get any problems corrected and go apply elsewhere. The ADA will cover your medical problem assuming it can be corrected to a hearing level that is acceptable in a 911 PSAP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilMcD
    Question: do you have tinnitus or any type of ringing in the ear? Also, are you the type of person who forgets when people tell you things but you can remember them just fine when you read it?
    Yes. Moderate to severe tinnitus. No problems on the second question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim911
    If you honestly believe you were in a "hostile work environment" and you think you were wrongfully fired then get a lawyer.
    Not worth it. Even if I was reinstated, I have no desire to work at a dispatch center that doesn't want me there. 'Will do' on the rest of your advice. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xdispatcher
    Yes. Moderate to severe tinnitus. No problems on the second question.

    Tinnitus usually tends to be a sign of hearing loss (among other things). I would strongly suggest seeing an otaryanolgist (I know I misspelled that) to find out WHY you have the tinnitus and discuss the possibility of the tinnitus being the reason you're having difficulty with the radio.

    There are devices out there that act as "hearing aids" but instead of amplifying sounds, they work to reduce the impact of the tinnitus.

    -N

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    This is something I have trouble with too. Primarily I am a fire mechanic and I was a chain saw operator in the past so my hearing isn't all that great to begin with. I can still pick out tiny sounds if they are isolated but trying to understand someone over background noise is just about impossible. Sometimes I entertain the notion of being a dispatcher because I want so badly to help clean up the mess they have up there right now but I know I constantly mis-hear what people are saying over the radio and I know the field units would just get ****ed off at me.

    Birken

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    Maybe you just were'nt cut out for the job. It is not a personal attack or anything but not everyone can handle it. People often believe that the job is simple, but if that was the case some of these other threads would not exist. You are probably better off getting out of there when you did. Would you want to be the one that some of these other threads are complaining about? Also I have been dispatching for 4 1/2 years now and I definitely have some hearing loss from the headsets I wear all day.
    The opinions expressed are my own and not to be confused as my company's or department's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilMcD
    I would strongly suggest seeing an otaryanolgist (I know I misspelled that) to find out WHY you have the tinnitus.....
    -N
    WHY: side-effect of medication.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LJ33FIRE
    Maybe you just were'nt cut out for the job.
    Maybe. If I could hear properly and still had problems, I'd agree to 'pack it in.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by BirkenVogt
    I can still pick out tiny sounds if they are isolated but trying to understand someone over background noise is just about impossible.
    Birken
    That's what happens with the TV and scanner to me. I know how you feel.

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