As National Police Week comes to an end it is important for the family of our police officers to find peace in the reality we live daily. Today on Love and Blues I offer some suggestions that I learned from being both a police wife and also a retried police officer.
The movement #IAM911 brought to light what telecommunicators have always known, we too are emotionally affected by the job we do. We and those around us just did not know it was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It’s not easy to answer the phone, listen to a child scream in pain as they are burned by flames as his drunk father yells at him. Only to then hang up the phone and have to answer the next call that comes in about someone who locked their keys in their car.
When we hang up the phone, no matter what kind of call we just took we absolutely have to quickly adjust our mindset and prepare for the next incoming call. This all happens in literally a few seconds.
Never do we get to go to the scene and see these voices we hear. Some voices become so familiar the caller’s name, address, and often date of birth are singed into our memory. Some voices have obvious fear in them, some of the voices are those of desperation, some voices have sounds of helplessness and some have hatred.
Never do we get to see what sounded like screams of sheer terror was actually a small child crying from a bump to the knee when we answer a 911 call that is quickly hung up.
When our officers (and yes they are OUR officers, they are the brothers and sisters I never wanted but sure glad to have them) are on a call and not answering their radio when we call them we do not get to quickly turn the corner because we were en route to them anyways to see they are just fine. They hadn’t heard me calling them to make sure they were safe because they were playing catch with the neighborhood kids.
As 911 dispatcher’s we are the unseen, we are very rarely thanked. Although we are the first line in public safety we are usually the last one you think of when the term public service is used.
So often people assume that all 911 dispatchers want to be cops or firemen. Nope, many cops and firemen couldn’t handle this job. Just as many dispatchers couldn’t nor want to be in their boots. 911 dispatchers should be proud of who they are and of what they are for they are not ONLY dispatchers…they ARE dispatcher.
For all of these reasons and many many more PTSD and stress runs rampant through our profession. I ask of you one thing…during this week that we celebrate our Telecommunicator’s…be sure to do some self-care. It is not a sign of weakness it is smart!!!
Be sure to get in a routine to check on your co-workers. Did they take a rough call? Offer to listen while they go get some fresh air or while they call their family just because.
Most importantly, don’t do nothin‘!! (oh my poor English teachers would be screaming if they saw that)
TO TC’S ALL ACROSS THE LAND,
HAPPY TELECOMMUNICATOR’S WEEK AND THANK YOU!!!
I can still remember the glares I would get at functions where my co-workers’ significant others were present. They never seemed to even give me a chance. At first I took it personally, then I became a LEO Wife. Suddenly it became clear to me. I was seen as the enemy. I was the woman who saw her husband probably more than she did. I got it. So I want to help quash this misconception.
Today on Love and Blues check out my post about the reality of what your husband’s female partner is about.