Md. working to get 911 specialists in need of mental health support

Maryland is working to recruit counselors into the staff of 911 centers to help “first responders,” for whom the burnout rate is so high. of a person in distress. Sue Greentree was a 911 specialist in Anne Arundel County for 35 years. In March 2020, she had had enough and retired. “It was often very demanding. You never know what you’re responding to,” Greentree said. “It was an incredibly rewarding career for me. I loved my job. It got to the point where it got too emotional for me.” was an extraordinarily distraught mother who had come home from work to find her daughter hanging,” Greentree said. “I said to her, ‘Grab her by the legs, just hold her, just hold her and take that pressure off her. her throat. She said, ‘I can’t hold her, I can’t hold her.’ And, I just insisted, ‘You can, you can. We’re moms. That’s what we do. We can do whatever we need to do, you can do it.'” The girl survived, in part, thanks to Greentree, but despite the happy ending, a call like that can wreak havoc. “These things, they come home with you. They’re inside you, and they change who you are and how you look at the world,” Greentree said. Danissa Alston is a social worker at the Montgomery County 911 Center, which is the first jurisdiction in Maryland to provide a full-time counselor to 911 specialists. Alston said the biggest burden for these workers is balancing intense work and demanding with the stressors of life. “They have to be able to find a balance, they have to be able to say, ‘Hey, this call stays with me,'” Alston said. compulsorily held back overtime — working 16 hours — sometimes with just eight hours of sleep in between, then coming back to take calls and dispatch calls to first responders.” In addition to their work, Alston said 911 specialists still have to deal with all the stressors in their personal life, from their children to their finances.Alston said 24% of 911 specialists are clinically depressed, 8% have suicidal thoughts and 96% report negative changes in relationships – especially marriages.Meanwhile, Greentree has found peace in another career and believes providing mental health support to “first responders” can help them find a balance and to continue to respond to these crucial calls. The Maryland 911 Commission, a bipartisan group led by Montgomery County Senator Cheryl Kagan, D-District 17, is calling for streamlining access to mental health services for all 911 specialists.

Maryland is working to recruit counselors into the staff of 911 centers to help “first responders,” for whom the burnout rate is so high.

Working in a 911 center is hard work because you have to stay calm and collected while handling a call from someone in distress.

Sue Greentree was a 911 specialist in Anne Arundel County for 35 years. In March 2020, she had had enough and retired.

“It was often very demanding. You never know what you’re responding to,” Greentree said. “It was an incredibly rewarding career for me. I loved my job. It got to the point where it got too emotional for me.”

A call Greentree will never forget involved a desperate mother trying to save her daughter’s life.

“She was an extraordinarily distraught mother who had come home from work to find her daughter hanging,” Greentree said. “I said to her, ‘Grab her by the legs, just hold her, just hold her and take that pressure off her throat. She said, ‘I can’t hold her, I can’t hold her.’ And, I just insisted, ‘You can, you can. We are moms. This is what we do. We can do whatever we need to do, you can do it.'”

The girl survived thanks, in part, to Greentree, but despite the happy ending, a call like that can take its toll.

“These things, they come home with you. They’re inside you, and they change who you are and how you look at the world,” Greentree said.

Danissa Alston is a social worker at the Montgomery County 911 Center, which is the first jurisdiction in Maryland to provide a full-time counselor to 911 specialists. Alston said the biggest burden for these workers is balancing a intense and demanding work and life stressors.

“They have to be able to find a balance, they have to be able to say, ‘Hey, this call stays with me,'” Alston said. “Twelve-hour shifts, if there’s a staffing issue, people can be forced into overtime – working 16 hours – sometimes with only eight hours of sleep in between and then coming back to take calls and dispatch calls to first responders.”

“It was often very demanding. You never know what you’re responding to.”

In addition to their jobs, Alston said 911 specialists still have to deal with all the stressors in their personal lives, from their children to their finances.

Alston said 24% of 911 specialists are clinically depressed, 8% have suicidal thoughts and 96% report negative changes in relationships, especially marriages.

Meanwhile, Greentree has found peace in another career and believes providing mental health support to “first responders” can help them find balance and continue to respond to those crucial calls.

The Maryland 911 Commission, a bipartisan group led by Montgomery County Senator Cheryl Kagan, D-District 17, is calling for streamlining access to mental health services for all 911 specialists.

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