Emergency medical dispatcher unimaginable trauma


The following psychologically injured worker has been working as an emergency medical dispatcher. His/her is one of the voices callers hear when they dial 000 and ask for an ambulance. No training can fully prepare a dispatcher for the stress of taking calls from emergencies and people in desperate situations. Sometimes the outcome is traumatically evident: the casualty dies while still on the line… But what if that casualty is your own son or daughter?

Medical emergency dispatchers are always poised for the next alert. They talk callers through what is often one of the most desperate experiences of their lives and -most often- they never meet those they virtually ‘hand-held’ and very rarely find out what happened to them after the ambulance has collected them. No training can really fully prepare a dispatcher for the (enormous) stress of taking calls from casualties or bystanders in desperate situations. Sometimes the outcome is traumatically evident: the caller dies while still on the line. The following medical dispatcher has dealt with many emergency situations, and, undoubtedly, occasional cases have reduced him/her to tears. But just imagine this medical dispatcher’s extreme trauma when a call came in for his/her eldest child, who was in cardiac arrest and subsequently died….

To add INSULT to injury this severely traumatised worker had his/her workcover claim initially denied, disputed and had/has to continuously regurgitate the extremely painful events of this most tragic day to IME after IME…

Emergency medical dispatcher unimaginable trauma

Here is the medical dispatcher’s story:

In 200[x] while working as a 000 dispatcher a call came in for my eldest [son/daughter]. S/he was in cardiac arrest and subsequently died. I took 4 weeks off then returned to work.

It didn’t go well. My GP filled out WorkCover forms, medicated me.

My claim was rejected.

The premise was that the roster said I was on a break. Unfortunately someone was late that day and instead of a break I was on the dispatch channel for longer than usual.

The next approach was I was just a grieving [parent]. The final theory, I was a trained dispatcher and therefore I should have been able to do the job without a problem.

I attended mediation, but no clear decision could be made. We were referred to the Magistrates court. It was [over 1 year] before we got to court.

To prove I was suffering it was grief not trauma they printed out pages from my child’s memorial page and had me read each entry.

The hearing went for 4 days. Finally the judge approved the claim.

The nightmare continued.

Each IME begins with ‘tell me about the day you incurred your injury’.

It goes on from there taking less than 30 minutes. A report is written and your future is in the balance once

Then there is the Medical Panel.

The night before I was to be assessed I wrote about the grief felt losing who I once was, the loss of skills, concentration, isolation, connections with family and friends.

On arrival I was a blithering mess. My [wife/husband] accompanied me. S/he was told s/he couldn’t come in. I dissolved into an even bigger mess. I couldn’t speak. As they began to ask my questions I put the list on
the table. I was given tissues and allowed to leave.

The report stated that though the level of depression, anxiety and distress was quite evident, the fact that I wrote a list of my problems showed I had intellect.

So [x] years on here I am. I have just ceased being an employee of my company and given my potential for work, compliments of my last IME.

I have just sat through a RTW Vocational Assessment. It didn’t begin with the usual ‘tell me your story’. In fact the assessor was quite confident she knew the story from the IME’s report. For starters, the IME got my job title wrong. The date of my injury was correct however the date of my claim being accepted was wrong. My
resume was ‘incredible’. The fact that I haven’t worked for [MANY] years and am no longer that person didn’t seem to faze her.

Now I am waiting for the retraining and re-education to begin. No retentive memory, inability to concentrate, unpredictable and emotional mental state all seem to something that Work Cover and the Vocational Assessor have no problem with.

And just how does someone like me manage to write to prolifically?

Well, I’m in my house, my curtains drawn, my phone turned off and my ESP (Emotional Support Pups) M and M are close by.



8 Responses to “Emergency medical dispatcher unimaginable trauma”

  1. Cannot express how sorry I am, thank you for sharing.

    “No retentive memory, inability to concentrate, unpredictable and emotional mental state”

    This is the new me, apparently I will get used to her and she just needs a new job.

  2. It is certainly very difficult to know how to help someone when they have gone through an extremely distressing event. I think that’s the reason for the ‘blank’ comments.

    It’s only natural for any of us to want to make this very brave medical emergency dispatcher we already care so much about feel better again. But there is nothing I or we (or you) can say or do to make this seriously traumatised person’s pain disappear. I/we just hope that this will happen with time, lots of time, rest, and appropriate support. I am extremely sorry about what this person has had to experience and that I/we are here to help this person in any way they need & we possibly can.

    Thank you so so much for sharing your feelings, it must have been so harrowing to write your story down. More importantly thank you so much for showing and highlighting how the workcover system adds INSULT to injury. It beggars belief.

    I may also be lost for words , but I have you in mind and heart.

    • Sometimes, there can be a tendency to want ‘to move someone or a story on’ , because the terribly traumatic experience the person experienced makes us feel uncomfortable.

      I also think it’s very important we all make time “to be with” this person, even if it’s only in virtual mode (cyberspace). Make ourselves available for any support this person may need. Spare a few words or send some thoughts.

      I know from my own experiences that people who have had a very traumatic experience can often feel a little reassured by human contact, whether virtual or real.

      So here goes a virtual hug X

      • About all I could do is XO.. Am also at a total loss of what to say

        Maybe some emoticons could be added to the site?

        • @Woowoo By default, our site automatically converts text smileys to graphic images. When you type[ ;-)] -what is in between the brackets- in your comment you see smile emoticon 😉 when you publish your comment (or post).
          Text smileys are created by typing two or more punctuation marks. Some examples are:

          [;-)] is equivalent to smile emoticon 😉
          [:-)] is equivalent to smile emoticon 🙂
          [:-(] is equivalent to sad emoticon 🙁
          [:-?] is equivalent to confused emoticon 😕

          See all of the available smilies here 😥

          We’ll eventually work something out.

          Unfortunately there is no bloody HUG! 😮

      • Sometimes being able to tell your story to those who ‘get it’ goes a long way in the process of healing. I have strong support not from my company but from the Ambulance Service who were with me from day one.
        I work on the one day at a time theory.
        I am so glad I stumbled on this page. There is strength in knowing your are not alone.
        Thanks all

  3. For once, I am truly lost for words…