UPDATE: Bill filed to establish peer-to-peer counseling for dispatchers

Proposal comes after testimony in October from dispatchers

UPDATE POSTED 10:30 A.M. JAN. 13, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Sen. Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) has filed Senate Bill 64 establishing peer counseling programs for public safety employees.

During the interim session, Sen. Wilson heard compelling testimony from emergency dispatchers in the Military, Veterans Affairs, and Public Protection (VMAPP) Committee. The testimony detailed the trauma and many cases of post-traumatic stress disorder that so many individuals often face when doing this essential line of work.

Many forget that emergency dispatchers are the “first responders,” often being the first line of communication, answering traumatic calls when seconds, can mean life or death. Sen. Wilson recognized the need for access to mental health services for these unsung heroes and stands ready to help them in their time of need.

“Peer-to-peer counseling is a critical need for our emergency dispatchers,” Wilson said. “Many people forget they are often the first point of contact for those facing life threatening situations and it’s easy to forget the significant trauma that can come with taking these calls. Dispatchers have asked for help for years, and it’s finally time we give them the resources they need.”

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 4 P.M. OCT. 20, 2021

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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