Welcome to another episode of Within the Trenches, true stories from the 9-1-1 dispatchers who live them. Episode 185 features Jared, Director of Dearborn County out of Indiana. This was recorded at the Indiana NENA/APCO conference.
Episode topics –
- Jared’s 9-1-1 story
- Reflecting on funny 9-1-1 calls
- And more
As always if you have any comments, questions, topic suggestions or you would like to be a guest, send an email to email@example.com
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By Ricardo — 2 years ago
Guest blog written by: Daphanie Bailes – Within the Trenches Admin, In Between the Chaos columnist for IAED & Senior Telecommunicator and Communications Training Coordinator for Martin County Fire Rescue
I have never done that. I was so emotionally consumed by your call, I broke character completely. I walked outside and did something that I had never needed to do before.
Yours was the first call of my shift. You said you found your teenage son on the floor in his room…cold…blue. The phone wouldn’t reach. You said you would call from your cell. I told you to leave the line open and call back. As the phone rang only a few seconds later, I told my team that I would get it, I had you. We did CPR for what felt like forever. I relayed location information in between the compressions counter so Law Enforcement could find your house. When I heard the officer arrive and attach the AED, the robotic voice emitted a heart wrenching phrase, “Shock not advised”. The officer continued CPR until the rescue went on scene. I stayed on that open line as long as I could, listening for some glimmer of hope. The rescue encoded to the hospital. I heard the auto-pulse machine in the background giving compressions. I listened to the paramedic relay the ALS protocol administered. Round after round of medication had been given. No change.
At some point, I was able to walk outside. I needed a minute. Just to process. It was raining. Maybe I could somehow wash your screams out of my head. The situation just hit so close to home, I couldn’t shake it off.
I called my daughter’s middle school. I asked the receptionist to pull her out of class and have her call me. Why was I asking this? What is wrong with me? Moments later, my phone rang.
“Hello.” “Mommy, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, baby. Mommy had a bad call. I just wanted to hear your voice.”
“Ok, Mom. I love you.” (How lucky was I to be able to hear that?!)
“I love you, too. Have a good day, sweetheart. I’ll see you later.”
I came back in and stopped by my boss’ office. He asked me if I was ok. In my head I’m shouting “How can I be ok?” I began to cry and told him how I felt, another first for me. I told him how I feel like a little part of my heart dies each time I take a call like that, how I don’t know how many more of those calls I can take, how my heart hurts, how I wish that I could just take a break from it all but I know I can’t. My team needs me. I was lucky enough that he was able to cover the phones for me a little while longer. I took another walk around the parking lot, took a few more deep breaths and resumed my post, waiting for that next call.
Later, the hospital called for an air transport to the pediatric hospital in the neighboring county. I prayed it was “my patient”. Almost 2 hours later, the patient was stable enough to fly. Do I dare hope?
I was blessed to receive several updates through the public safety grapevine, a definite rarity. After each update, I remained “cautiously optimistic”. A few weeks later, I learned he went home. The Protocol, the on-scene efforts, the pre-hospital care, the modern medicine of 3 different hospitals, many prayers and a miracle had brought this child back. Back to his momma, so she could hear him say “I love you too Mom”.
That makes it all worth it. That’s why we take the needle and thread and sew the pieces of our heart back together…and take the next call.Post Views: 377
By Ricardo — 5 years ago
Today’s episode of Within the Trenches touches on the topic of stress and physical and mental issues in 9-1-1. As 9-1-1 dispatchers, we have heard it all. We have taken every call from the most ridiculous to the most horrific. If you’re like me, the calls that involve children are the ones that affect you most. I once took a call from a nine-year-old girl who had come home from school and found her mom passed out in the living room. She told me that her mom was not moving and her face was blue. I told her how to do CPR and she did it the best she could until help arrived. Although she did a great job her mom had already passed. She had had an overdose and died long before her daughter got home. I remember the little girl being scared but never lost it. Maybe it was the shock of the situation. Whatever it was, it’s a call I’ll never forget.
Towards the end of my dispatch career I began to feel burnt out. I enjoyed my job but the politics, long hours, workplace drama and stress began to eat at me. It’s something that people don’t understand unless you have done the job. The stress can be so great that some dispatchers have crashed and burned. How come no one, other than the dispatchers themselves, have noticed or addressed this? It’s something that wasn’t out there before but within the past year there have been numerous news articles covering the constant stress and physical and mental state of 9-1-1 dispatchers.
Whitney and I have done episodes in the past about CISM and EMDR but I wanted to do another one. In this episode I spoke with Michelle, assistant professor with Northern Illinois University who has been doing research on 9-1-1 dispatchers for the past few years concentrating on mental and physical health. There is a lot to learn in this episode. There was so much we could touch on that we are going to do a second episode to cover the rest. Michelle’s research is ongoing and if you would like to participate you can do so by clicking the link below. There is also a description. As always you can email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are currently looking for participants to enroll in our current studies. We are recruiting experienced TCs (at least one year of experience as a TC) and they can be currently working, have left the occupation, or retired from the job. Experienced TCs can complete a 1.5-2 hour survey online that they complete in multiple sittings. We are also doing follow up surveys that are much shorter (45 minutes) at 6 months and 12 months after the first survey. For each survey completed, the TC gets entered for a chance to win one of two $100 cash prizes. There will be three drawings – one after we’re finished collecting the baseline survey, one after we’re done collecting the 6 month survey, and one after the 12 month survey. The survey is hoping to get a good estimate of the psychological and physical health complaints of TCs and is a follow up to the pilot project. We’re also hoping to understand much more about what predicts poor health over time for this population.
We also hope to enroll trainees. They just have to be within their first 4 months of training. These participants complete a 1.5-2 hour survey and get $30 for completing it, as well as a chance to win one of two $100 cash prizes. In addition, we do shorter follow up surveys (45 min in length) and hold drawings for each of the subsequent time points that a trainee completes the survey. We hope that they will stay enrolled, even if they do not complete training or leave the job. The survey is looking at factors that predict adverse mental health and job attrition over time to help improve training efforts, hiring practices, and telecommunicator well-being.
Episode topics –
Post Views: 326
- Blue Mazda call
- Michelle’s intro and research interest
- What elements contribute to PTSD
- And more
By Ricardo — 8 years ago
I have been holding back and it’s time to let go. I have been posting on anything and everything and I am proud of what I have done but for some time now I have wanted to talk about what I do for a living. One day I will write a book about what I have been through but for now…this is the beginning. It is rather therapeutic to talk about what I have gone through and although some may frown upon what I am doing, I feel it is necessary to cope and move on.
I have been dispatching for several years now and I have heard it all. I have heard funny calls with naked males walking on stilts by the living room window of an elderly man, two drunk people pooping in driveways, and stoned out acid tripped people who see what’s not there. They are interesting and somewhat easy but along with all the funny calls are the calls no one wants to hear. The ones that cause nightmares and when the call is over all you can do is pick up the next one and move on. There is no time to cope. There is no time to pick up the pieces because the next caller needs your help as much as the previous one.
I have always compared taking a 911 call to pressing the gas pedal to the floor and letting go of the steering wheel. The calls are intense but you stick with it to the end. What’s hard is when you work in an area where you grew up. The calls are harder and you can’t tell the person you know them because it could make things worse so you grit your teeth and stay professional. I say the calls are hard because I answered when my grandmother died. My family was playing the waiting game and my partners in dispatch had arranged for me to leave once it happened. The phone rang and for some reason I hesitated. I looked at the screen and it was my mothers cell phone number. I answered and heard my cousins voice on the other end. My grandmother had passed away and I suppose it was meant to be that I would take the call. It was very hard but this is what I do. It was my duty to take the call and up until now my posts have been funny and light and I will get back to that but believe me when I say, I feel better.Post Views: 581