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YOUR FIRE DISPATCHERS: The First FIRST RESPONDERS-A New Report

     

Thursday, March 29, 2012 We've written for years about how critical the role of dispatchers are in what we do. From the first people dealing with the emergency (well before your tones go off) to their role in supporting responding and operating companies, their role is a critical part of any FD's response. In some places unfortunately they are are under paid, over worked and poorly trained with predictable results. And in as much as Firefighters may often get frustrated with their Dispatchers, it's also clear that the importance of Firefighters and Officers spending time in the dispatcher center (either during probation, training or regularly) to truly understand the job (vs what you think you understand) as well as Dispatchers out riding with units for the same reasons, cannot be overstated.
A new study finds that emergency dispatchers who handle 911 calls also suffer a mental toll, especially when taking distressing calls involving accidental death and suicide. The new study shows that 911 dispatchers’ indirect exposure to traumatic events can result in symptoms of PTSD. “Usually research considers links between disorders and how much emotional distress is experienced on the scene of a traumatic event,” said study author Dr. Michelle Lilly of Northern Illinois University in a statement. “However, this is the first study on emergency dispatchers, who experience the trauma indirectly.”

For the study, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, researchers questioned 171 emergency dispatchers currently working in 24 U.S. states. The dispatchers — predominately white women around age 38 with more than 11 years of dispatching experience — were asked about the types of calls they answer and their corresponding emotional distress. They participants then rated the types of calls that caused great distress and were asked to recall the worst call they ever received.

About 16% of the calls dispatchers identified as their worst involved the unexpected injury or death of a child. About 13% were suicidal callers, 10% were police-officer shootings and another 10% involved the unexpected death of an adult. The researchers report that the dispatchers experienced a high level of distress following 32% of potentially traumatic calls and that 3.5% of the dispatchers reported symptoms severe enough to be classified as PTSD.

Not knowing what happens after calls are dispatched is a significant stressor for dispatchers, ABC News reports. “We don’t know the end result. We don’t know if they made it. There is no formal communication back to us,” Monica Gavio, a coordinator for the Burlington County, New Jersey, 911 communications center.

When we look at the entire "chain of response-from the 9-1-1 call, the call processing, the dispatching and the radio operations-it's clear that dispatchers are an integral part of what we do.

MORE HERE: http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/29/study-911-dispatchers-experience-ptsd-symptoms-too/#ixzz1qX8FVnM0



 


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