FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., (KFTA) — EMS dispatchers are often witnesses to very traumatic situations. This is why Central EMS Chief Becky Stewart said it is important for all dispatchers to have mental health care benefits.
Stewart called dispatchers the unsung heroes. They are the ones who answer the phone when people need help but they are not the ones people see at the scene.
At Central EMS, the dispatchers are classified as first responders which means they do get mental health care benefits. They get the same benefits as if they were in the field like paramedics and EMT’s.
However, in some states, the EMS is classified as clerical workers which take away their access to mental health care. Stewart said the dispatchers take calls from all of Washington County except the city of Springdale which has its own dispatch center. That amounts to more than seven thousand 911 calls a month. Stewart said all of these calls do affect dispatchers and the mental health benefits are necessary.
“Not everyone can talk someone through doing CPR on their spouse that they have been married to for 60 years. That type of stuff is pretty tough and takes a whole lot out of you.”
Central EMS dispatchers can get immediate crisis intervention, and at least five counseling appointments without any out of pocket cost.