Ex-first responders form organizations to help others deal with trauma | Luzerne County, Pa., edges closer to funding goal for 9-1-1 upgrades | N.C. dispatcher describes lasting effects from serving during hurricane
October 8, 2019
News for emergency communications and response professionals
A former police officer and a former paramedic have founded organizations to train public safety agencies in improving mental health and preventing deaths by suicide among first responders. Teaching coping strategies can help avoid burnout in EMTs and paramedics, says Ann Marie Farina, co-founder of the Code Green Campaign.
The Luzerne County, Pa., Department of Community and Economic Development has pledged $1 million toward an approximately $20 million project to upgrade the local 9-1-1 system, which will become obsolete by the end of next year. The County Council is considering taking out a loan to cover the rest of the $19.7 million needed.
North Carolina 9-1-1 dispatcher Traci Watson describes the sleep disturbances she experienced after serving seven consecutive days during Hurricane Florence last year answering calls from first responders and residents. Watson says the stress was compounded by being separated from her family during the disaster and the uncertainty of not knowing how they were faring.
Harrison and Taylor counties in West Virginia are getting a new software platform to replace their nearly 20-year-old computer-aided dispatch system. The new system "is going to give external agencies a lot more access to what is going on in real time," says 9-1-1 Director Paul Bump.
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California enacted three laws Oct. 1 geared toward helping first responders handle the trauma of their jobs and maintain their mental health. One law creates standards for peer-support programs; another provides workers' compensation for stress-related illnesses; and the third prevents privatization of local emergency dispatch centers.
Local governments eager to upgrade to Next Generation 9-1-1 systems are facing the challenge of converting analog systems to digital without leaving them open to cyberattacks, some security vendors and IT officials say. County IT departments lack the expertise to block hackers, Wisconsin Chief Information Officer David Cagigal says.