Video: Ushering in better mental health for first responders

A 911 dispatcher shares his journey with vicarious trauma and burnout, and how he has become a crusader for other responders in crisis


The recently released EMS Trend Report reveals an increase in responders identifying provider mental health as a major or significant issue impacting EMS over the past 3 years.

While awareness about mental wellness and suicide prevention has expanded in recent years, the fact that more than two-thirds of Trend Report (68%) respondents indicate it is a significant issue indicates that much remains to be done.

This year, the impact of mental health on the profession was rated highest by dispatchers (73%) and educators (74%). Learn more about the issues impacting the industry by downloading your copy of the 2020 EMS Trend Report.

By OC87 Recovery Diaries

OC87 Recovery Diaries is an interactive website that features stories of mental health, empowerment and change.

In this segment, Craig Tinneny, a 911 dispatcher relates how being the first step in any first responder efforts, and those compounded experiences – call after call, day after day – build up. Tinneny describes the vicarious trauma, stress and PTSD dispatchers can experience. “When our phone rings, people aren’t calling to say, ‘Hi, how was your day?’ or ‘Happy Birthday.’ When the phone rings, there’s a problem.” According to Tinneny, “You see humanity on its worst day.”

In this OC87 segment, Craig Tinneny, a 911 dispatcher relates how being the first step in any first responder efforts, and those compounded experiences – call after call, day after day – build up.
In this OC87 segment, Craig Tinneny, a 911 dispatcher relates how being the first step in any first responder efforts, and those compounded experiences – call after call, day after day – build up. (Photo/Getty Images)

The calls changed the way he saw himself and the way he saw his job. “I didn’t feel right – I felt hollow, a dark side of myself. Things I had enjoyed doing before weren’t cutting it, and work became a hassle. Every time the phone rang, instead of feeling challenged and wanting to help, I was grinding my teeth and resenting it.” 

“We’re in the dark ages of mental health for first responders,” Tinneny noted. He is now a self-described crusader to usher in better mental health for first responders. “It’s become a main mission of mine,” he said.

Tinneny volunteers to spend time with other first responders who may be in crisis, sharing his journey of darkness and light, in hopes of helping them find a path to better mental health. Read more of Tinneny's story as a 911 dispatcher and watch the video below.

Watch next: Beneath the Vest: Paramedic depression and anxiety recovery

 

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2020 EMS1. All rights reserved.