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
Paul Myers is my name, and I developed PTSD in the line of duty. I was diagnosed in 2008, and have been fighting it ever since.
Lois, I was a RCMP member who left the force in 2010 with a medical discharge due to PTSD. The stigma has to stop to allow members to continue working, they are truly capable to do their jobs. I unfortunately felt betrayed by some coworkers like I was under a microscope. I was asked by a supervisor what medication I was on, this person went home and researched the meds, came to work the next day, told me I should not be at work, should not drive a police car and I could go suicidal so they should take my gun. (this was after I was cleared to come back to work) I was very fortunate that I had not been suicidal at all during my illness. I was already on the back to work program and I was recovering very well, until that day! The ignorance of one coworker/supervisor sent me in another downward spiral.
I loved my job, I loved my coworkers, my life was my work! I miss it, but feel I can speak out and talk about PTSD and the effects it has on myself and my family. There are daily struggles, but now I can spend my days loving my 8 grandkids, which is the best therapy out there!!!
A Sister’s Tribute to Her Brother:
There are no words to describe my sadness about the loss of my brother, Kevin. I have wonderful memories of a caring and kind man, that was brave, strong and yet gentle. I hold in my heart many times of fun and laughter, as well as the sharing of pain. I will miss my brother, who reached for so many things, a man that longed to make a difference with his life, who often put himself last, as he served others. I thank God for the years we had. Another angel has collected his wings……..RIP
Picture is of Kevin with his niece, my daughter – when he came to Toronto for the Combat Challenge.