When we have an emergency on our hands, when our lives or the lives of our friends and family are in danger, we’ve been drilled to call 911 (or another emergency number if you’re living outside the United States). These situations are devastating for us and our loved ones, but how many of us have considered the emotional weight that falls on the shoulders of those who are the very first to respond to our calls?
To us, emergencies are a rare occurrence. But dispatchers deal with emergency after emergency. Every. Single. Day. For. Years. Lynette McManus Jeter, a dispatcher from Henrico County in Virginia, wrote an honest essay about the emotional pitfalls of her profession and how it affects her life.
Lynette has worked as an emergency dispatcher for 15 years and wrote an honest letter about her job
Lynette’s powerful letter has gone viral online, getting over 29,000 likes, over 31,000 shares, and more than 7,200 comments. Some people expressed their support of Lynette, while others said that from now on they would see each and every dispatcher in a different light.
The 39-year-old told the media in Richmond that she’s “very surprised” that her Facebook post went viral “I definitely wasn’t expecting this at all. I’ve received so many messages from other dispatchers thanking me for telling their truth.”
Lynette, who has been working as a dispatcher for 15 years, wants other people to see the work that dispatchers do not as ‘clerical work.’ She wants them to be seen as first responders.
The fact is, stressful jobs don’t stop affecting you the moment that you leave the workplace. Some of that stress (in some cases, all of it) follows you home.
Police One writes that emergency dispatchers can suffer from compassion fatigue, also known as vicarious trauma, from listening to other people’s traumas every day at work, for years.
While at work, dispatchers are constantly responding to stressful situations, can overhear things that will haunt them for a very long time, and lead to feelings of helplessness, horror, and fear. So if you know a dispatcher in real life, go give them a hug and plenty of support.
People rushed to support Lynette and other dispatchers