Dispatcher mental health issues should be addressed, committee told

Emotional dispatcher tells lawmakers of the needs

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – They hear and deal with things in person that most people can only imagine through TV and movies.

Shooting victims, people considering suicide, officers in trouble, people taking their last breaths. They are emergency dispatchers and they save lives.

But often after a disaster or tragedy, their emotions often are the last to be considered. That needs to change, state lawmakers were told Wednesday as they heard sometimes tearful testimony about the need for mental health services for dispatchers.

“We’re the last to be considered, we’re the last to be thought about, even at an agency level. We don’t get offered debriefings. There’s a lot of us that will have a trauma call, the fire, the EMS, the police will get a debriefing, make sure everybody’s OK. That dispatcher is sitting behind that mic still doing their job,” dispatcher Carissa Smith told the Legislature’s Interim Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection. Carissa

Proposals are being drafted that would provide funding and other assistance for counseling and other services for dispatchers and their departments.

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