Research connects PTSD to 911 Dispatchers

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Post traumatic stress is something often connected with soldiers or emergency responders on the front line.

A new study finds the condition is not only linked those who see life threatening situations, but even 9-1-1 dispatchers who hear them.

"Your waiting on that next 911 call not knowing what that calls going to be," E-911 Director Jeff Presley says it's not a job for everyone. "People that will go through the training. Once they're released to start working on their own, that one call that effects them and they'll walk in and say I'm done."

When chaos happens, 911 Dispatchers are trained to remain calm. A new study finds while dispatchers may not be in middle of a traumatic situation, distressing calls can trigger symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. It's what Presley calls "burn out" and he's seen within the department.

"I had a young lady that was doing very well. She took the call that involved a small child that passed away and she was done. She told me that call was it," said Presley.

According to the study, 16-percent of dispatchers felt the worst calls were those that involved unexpected injury or the death of a child. But Presley explains it's not just the call that can deliver P-T-S-D.

"You know they would be in the background taking the initial call, processing the that call, talking to the first responders, but not knowing the outcome of that call," said Presley.

Presley says sources are in place to handle prevention and intervention. "We do have the crisis team to come in and talk. You'll find some of the folks will say I don't think I really need that and sometimes those are the people that talk the most," said Presley.

Presley says a large number of dispatchers a primarily women. He adds, proper sleep and a healthy diet is also helps to prevent P-T-S-D.

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