Dispatchers Are First Responders

For Dispatchers, First Responder Is More Than Just A Title

It is training, education, and mental health.

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There has been a lot of talk with Congresswoman Torres out of California putting forth a bill that changes the classification of 9-1-1 dispatchers from clerical staff to first responders.

There are those who see it and say, why change it? It's not like they actually respond to the scene, therefore they cannot be first responders.

I can see the argument there, my husband is law enforcement and he is a first responder. He arrives on the scene of accidents and other things I don't want to see. Before he gets there, in most cases, a dispatcher has already talked to someone on the scene and has a full description of the problem. I have great respect for the responders on the road, but trying to get information on a distraught screaming person on the phone takes more talent than doing so in person.

Aside from what dispatchers deal with on a daily basis, the other thing is training. There is no nationwide or even statewide standard for dispatchers. Each agency is left to its own training since they are not recognized as anything other than clerical staff. It means that the 9-1-1 dispatcher that answers your emergency call may have anywhere from 1 day of training to 6 months of training. They may not have dealt with a suicidal caller until the first day out of training.

Education is important for dispatchers and sadly lacking. The reason why education and training are not done is because of funding. As a clerical staff, dispatchers do not fall under first responders and are not eligible for a number of grants and resources that are available to law enforcement.

The #Iam911 movement has been doing its best to get the word out about dispatchers and what it is they do. The Within The Trenches Facebook page has a plethora of stories that will break your heart if you are not prepared for them. These are just single events that dispatchers have had to deal with. When they hang up that call they start right back into another one.

The most important thing to realize is that dispatchers are not out to get first responder status for the discounts. It's not all about the name, even though recognition and appreciation would be nice. It the behind the scene benefits that matter the most. It is about having a standard across the nation and state for 9-1-1 operators and radio dispatchers. A secretary could do my job, with 6 months of training. That training is not required by anything other than the agencies preference in some states.

There are benefits of being labeled a first responder, this label helps them in areas that most people try not to think about. Stress management and PTSD are issues in a dispatch center. Dispatchers face high levels of emotional distress with the calls they take. A study showed that peritraumatic distress was high in dispatchers and showed up in an average of 32% of potentially traumatic calls.

Dispatchers are in dire need of resources that will get them training, stress management, and equipment that is needed. As a dispatcher, I want to talk to someone who knows what they are doing, who is trained and has the resources they need to carry out the job. First Responder status improves on what agencies are already doing.

If you have ever called 9-1-1 or ever intend to call 9-1-1, this should be at the forefront of your mind. When it comes to an emergency, it's not the time to say I wish I could have. Be prepared, help dispatchers prepare for when the emergency is yours.

The time is now to make a difference.

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I Don't Care How Hard Your Major Is, There Is No Excuse Not To Have A Job While In College

If the name on your credit card does not match the name on your birth certificate, then you really need to re-evaluate your priorities.

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We seem to live in a generation where everyone wants to go to college.

It is nice to see that people want to invest in their education, but at what expense? It's easy to commit to a school, and it is even easier to get yourself and your parents into thousands of dollars of debt because you're "living your best life."

To me, it's pathetic if you're over the age of eighteen and you don't have some sort of income or responsibilities outside of homework and attendance. The old excuse, "I want to focus on school," is no longer valid. You can get all A's while having a job, and that has nothing to do with intelligence, but rather your will to succeed. "I don't have time for a job/internship," translates to, "I'm really lazy,".

You don't need to overextend yourself and work forty hours a week, but you should at least work summers or weekends. Any job is a good job. Whether you babysit, walk dogs, work retail, serve tables or have an internship. You need to do something.

"My major is too hard," is not an excuse either. If you can go out on the weekends, you can work.

The rigor of your major should not determine whether or not you decide to contribute to your education. If the name on your credit card does not match the name on your birth certificate, then you really need to re-evaluate your priorities.

Working hard in school does not compensate for having any sense of responsibility.

I understand that not everyone has the same level of time management skills, but if you truly can't work during the school year, you need to be working over the summer and during your breaks. The money you make should not exclusively be for spending; you should be putting it towards books, loans, or housing.

Internships are important too, paid or not.

In my opinion, if you chose not to work for income, you should be working for experience. Your resume includes your degree, but your degree does not include your resume. Experience is important, and internships provide experience. A person working an unpaid internship deserves the same credit as a student working full/part-time.

Though they are not bringing in income for their education, they are gaining experience, and opening up potential opportunities for themselves.

If you go to college just to go to class and do nothing else, then you don't deserve to be there. College is so much more than just turning in assignments, it is a place for mental and academic growth. You need to contribute to your education, whether it is through working for income or working for knowledge or experience.

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I Might Have Aborted My Fetus When I Was 18, But Looking Back, I Saved A Child’s Life

It may have been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had done it.

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Due to recent political strife happening in the world today, I have decided to write on a very touchy, difficult subject for me that only a handful of people truly know.

When I was 18 years old, I had an abortion.

I was fresh out of high school, and deferring college for a year or two — I wanted to get all of my immature fun out so I was prepared to focus and work in the future. I was going through my hardcore party stage, and I had a boyfriend at the time that truly was a work of art (I mean truly).

Needless to say, I was extremely misinformed on sex education, and I never really thought it could happen to me. I actually thought I was invincible to getting pregnant, and it never really registered to me that if I had unprotected sex, I could actually get pregnant (I was 18, I never said I was smart).

I remember being at my desk job and for weeks, I just felt so nauseous and overly tired. I was late for my period, but it never really registered to me something could be wrong besides just getting the flu — it was November, which is the peak of flu season.

The first person I told was my best friend, and she came with me to get three pregnancy tests at Target. The first one came negative, however, the second two came positive.

I truly believe this was when my anxiety disorder started because I haven't been the same ever since.

Growing up in a conservative, Catholic Italian household, teen pregnancy and especially abortion is 150% frowned upon. So when I went to Planned Parenthood and got the actual lab test done that came out positive, I was heartbroken.

I felt like I was stuck between two roads: Follow how I was raised and have the child, or terminate it and ultimately save myself AND the child from a hard future.

My boyfriend at the time and I were beyond not ready. That same week, I found out he had cheated on me with his ex and finances weren't looking so great, and I was starting to go through the hardest depression of my life. Because of our relationship, I had lost so many friends and family, that I was left to decide the fate of both myself and this fetus. I could barely take care of myself — I was drinking, overcoming drug addictions, slightly suicidal and living with a man who didn't love me.

As selfish as you may think this was, I terminated the fetus and had the abortion.

I knew that if I had the child, I would be continuing the cycle in which my family has created. My goal since I was young was to break the cycle and breakaway from the toxicity in how generations of children in my family were raised. If I had this child, I can assure you my life would be far from how it is now.

If I had carried to term, I would have had a six-year old, and God knows where I would've been.

Now, I am fulfilling my future by getting a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, having several student leadership roles, and looking into law schools for the future.

Although it still haunts me, and the thought of having another abortion truly upsets me, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I get asked constantly "Do you think it's just to kill a valuable future of a child?" and my response to that is this:

It's in the hands of the woman. She is giving away her valuable future to an unwanted pregnancy, which then resentment could cause horror to both the child and the woman.

As horrible as it was for me in my personal experience, I would not be where I am today: a strong woman, who had overcome addiction, her partying stage, and ultimately got her life in order. If I would have had the child, I can assure you that I would have followed the footsteps of my own childhood, and the child would not have had an easy life.

Because of this, I saved both my life and the child's life.

And if you don't agree or you dislike this decision, tough stuff because this is my body, my decision, my choice — no one else.

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