Tamara “Faces of PTSD”

Tamara

Tamara

Tamara, I’m not a part of the RCMP but I feel like I am. My mom was a dispatcher for 30 years, Dad was a constable for over 25, my sister and brother in law are both current RCMP members in Calgary and Airdrie. Myself, I’m a 911 dispatcher for the Lethbridge Regional Police in Southern Alberta as well a Fire/Ambulance dispatch for the majority of the south. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2013 after taking some pretty traumatic calls. For a dispatcher, or at least for me, I visualize my call while I’m taking it (which is a fault) and when I’m done I hang up and start my next one. To me, every call is a movie. E very call is a movie that ends 3/4 of the way through. As Dispatchers, we don’t get to know the ending of most of the calls we have unless someone has died on our phone or on a positive light, a baby is born. Generally speaking, our phone isn’t ringing because you’re having the best day of your life, it’s usually because it’s the worst. I remember taking a pedestrian collision where my caller told me the patient was breathing but had blood on her face. I stayed on the line with my brave caller and continued to make sure everything was ok until police and paramedics got there. Once I hung up with my caller my phone rang again. As normal I carried on and picked it up. Over the radio I heard one of our police officers say, “The patient is DOA…” At that point right there I didn’t even know what to think. I was told the patient was breathing, she was ok. I could have done CPR, I felt like it was my fault she died. My caller was in shock and didn’t see what the scene actually was like. There was a lot more trauma and blood than he told me and she couldn’t have been breathing. Every single day I work I pick up the phone and hope the best. You never know how you will respond to a certain call, it might be the strangest one that can be your breaking point. I have had children and adults die on the phone, I’ve heard horrific screams and noises I can’t even explain. One of the things that gets me through every single day is the saying “You’re only as good as your caller”. Like my pedestrian collision, I couldn’t have changed a single thing about it-I couldn’t change the outcome. I was only as good as my caller. It took a lot of therapy and time off to realize this. I believe I’m a better person from going through the steps of PTSD. I do not wish it on anyone but I have an amazing support system in my family, my husband and child and I have some of the best coworkers who stood by me during my darkest times. As a dispatcher, our main job is to make sure the men and women of Police, Fire and Ambulance get home safely. We make sure the people who need help get help-we keep people safe. If we don’t keep each other safe, who will? Tamara Currie Police/Fire/Ems dispatcher

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