911 operators, first responders feel weight of heroin crisis

Dispatchers handle hundreds of calls with people sometimes living through their worst day - and overdose is now a common theme

warren considering merger with trumbull county 911


WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – With a shocking number of overdoses last month, Trumbull County is facing a growing crisis in the heroin epidemic.

Dispatchers at the Trumbull County 911 center are handling more calls than ever before. With the skyrocketing number of opioid overdoses, dispatchers are feeling the weight of being on the front lines.

Dispatchers handle hundreds of calls with people sometimes living through their worst day – and overdose is now a common theme in the day and life of a dispatcher.


911 call: “I think I need an ambulance, I think my son is OD’ing”

In 2015, 47 overdose calls came in from January through March. That number grew to 95 in 2016, and so far this year, the number skyrocketed to 224.

“Almost a 235 percent increase. It’s almost doubling each year,” said Trumbull County 911 Director Ernie Cook.

Answering all those calls takes its toll.  A study conducted by Northern Illinois University found that dispatchers experience high levels of “peritraumatic distress,” the strong emotions felt during a traumatic event. Participants reported experiencing fear, helplessness or horror in reaction to nearly one-third of the different types of potentially traumatic calls.


911 call: Overdose victim taken to fire department

Cook said workers want to do more and it turns into a frustrating situation.

“They want to help more and I think none of us really have a good understanding of the depth of this problem,” Cook said.

That’s why the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board is teaming up with emergency responders to help them cope with the crisis.

April Caraway, with the recovery board, said the agency is setting up training for first responders to learn “self-care” to deal with the post-traumatic stress issues.


911 call: Man overdoses at Arby’s


911 call: “I can’t wake him up”
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