911 Dispatchers At Risk For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A new research shows 9-1-1 dispatchers are at risk of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even without being on the front lines.

A study in the Journal of Traumatic Stress says 9-1-1 operators from 24 states found around one-third of traumatic phone calls caused dispatchers to be emotionally distressed, nearly three percent of dispatchers are diagnosed with PTSD.

"I don't want to sound heartless or anything but once it's over, it's over you got to get back onto the game and be ready for the next call," says Washington County dispatcher Jason Hall.

They pick up the phone to hear screaming and cries for help every day. 9-1-1 dispatchers must stay calm even during the most traumatic times.

"We deal with the people in their crisis everyday as far as their baby is not breathing or children getting hurt, car accidents and such, I mean we're the first, the first people to have contact with that and we've got to be able to get the appropriate agencies there," explains Hall.

While dispatchers aren't on the front lines of every emergency, They are still responding even before the other first responders. The advice is not to get emotionally involved, but that's not easy.

"You have to be able to react quickly we've walked people through CPR many of times," says Hall, "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Those things there you can't hold onto that when it's done."

Hall says while it's about letting go... there will always be those calls... you'll never forget.

"Probably back in 2008 when Srgt. Parks got shot in the line of duty. I took the original phone call from the guy that was shooting up his house, I took the radio traffic when he radioed that he had been shot it was probably the most traumatic thing I went through here," continues Hall.

The research shows operators said unexpected injury or death of a child to be the hardest type of 9-1-1 call to handle.


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