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.
AND THEY DO!
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.