Thursday, March 22, 2012


Yesterday was one of those rare days of overtime in my new (well, more than a year now) smaller agency. Have gotten use to working only 40 hours a week compared to my prior large agency where if I only worked 45 hours a week it was a light week.

I took a walk during my break and saw a former co-worker from the other agency. She was one of the "B's" who if they didn't like you would make fun of you. It was her sister who was the major "B" who created such drama inside the dispatch center that I changed shifts and days off to attempt to have as little cross over shift work with her as possible.

I had filed a couple complaints against the major "B" on harassment and of course, nothing was truly done. Accountability from co-workers and supervisors will be a point of discussion another time.

The rest of my day was a "roll tape" of memories of my years with the larger agency. Some of the good times, but mostly of the harassment and pokes received from some of the "B's" of the larger agency.

They ran the dispatcher center. If you weren't part of the inner circle, nothing you did was acceptable, they would yell at you across the room with dumb ass questions, sabotage your calls with incomplete information when working the radio, refuse to take their share of phone call traffic, take longer than scheduled breaks, etc.

All day was a constant poke of yet another memory of their subtle, and not so subtle, attempts at breaking me and embarrassing me. I could not shake them out of my head, no matter what I tried. And my sleep was another run of dreams involving them and supervisors. Even in my dreams they were getting away from being held responsible for their actions.

I found out the sister I saw and the major "B" sister both took "stress" early retirements! WHAT?!?!?!?! They were the cause of sooooo much stress and drama in the dispatch center and they got stressed out enough to be medically retired?!?!?!?

I knew I was getting truly stressed out. I was getting to the end of my mental health rope. Ready to explode, yell, scream, cuss, deep sarcasm. Even get physical with at least one dispatcher. I knew I was getting bad, barely balancing on the edge, so I, like a responsible adult, decided I needed to leave and sought other employment. It meant a loss of pay, but I wouldn't end up fired or in jail, which neither included a paycheck.

And they got stress medical retirement??!??!??!

And more than a year later I am still getting flashbacks and stomach aches and losing sleep and nausea from memories of my time spent locked up with them in a windowless basement for over eight years.

And they are getting tax free medical retirement monies and getting their educations on my tax dollar?? Hell No. Where can I file for a review of their files? Who do I contact for a tax audit for them? How come they aren't being held accountable for their actions? UGH

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Check This Out

I had earlier mentioned the fact my last continuing education course dealt with suicide callers. A tough and frustrating part of our job. During the course they talked about the West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat, a place for first responders to get help from other first responders who understand the special and unique requirements of law enforcement and fire fighting and medical rescue.

Of course, I had to ask if they (WCPR) also recognize that dispatchers are capable of getting PTSD. But their needs for counseling are different than the officer/firefighter/paramedic/emt.


Check out the website, specifically the location above. Clearly dispatchers are getting the professional respect needed, thus getting the professional help many of us need.

I will volunteer the fact I have sought counseling because of the stresses of my job. And even though the counselor/phd works with other officers and a couple dispatchers, the counselor/phd, wasn't from that "world" and only could listen from a "second-hand" knowledge.

Not quite the same. Though I appreciated the support I got, and at times the encouragement, I still don't think the impact of my job, listening and hearing too much, was truly understood. And since one of my complaints was the constant whining of callers about problems they made, knowing I was in that office whining too, made it difficult to truly open up.

I think this would be a "safe" and good place, with listeners truly understanding our daily tasks, to fully express our 'tudes and frustrations (with callers and brass and supervisors).

It has been hard to find papers written on ptsd for dispatchers. Those in the psychological field don't usually recognize our stress levels since, in their opinions, we are removed from the actual trauma by the phone extension, thus not directly involved.


As dispatchers we are the first of the first responders. We may not have the visual but our imaginations can color those pictures real quick. And it is, and can be, very difficult to turn off the mental recordings of those phone calls or the radio traffic in time of crisis.

Maybe here some of us can get the help and learn the skills to handle the long term effect of this job.