SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — A clinical psychologist that was on the scene of Sunday’s officer-involved shooting is speaking out on how losing an officer in the line of duty impacts departments.
Dr. Kathy Platoni, a retired United States Army Colonel and clinical psychologist with 40 years of experience, responded on Sunday as part of Dayton’s SWAT team where Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Yates was shot and killed. She said many first responders witnessed death firsthand and Sunday’s scene was a true nightmare for many.
“It was the chaos of not knowing what set this whole thing off, the motives underlying the shooting were in the first place, and then to lose a life so tragically,” said Dr. Platoni.
Since Sunday, Dr. Platoni said many first responders are still grieving and processing an officer dying in the line of duty.
“I talked with as many people as I could on scene,” said Dr. Platoni. “Yesterday, we did a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing for a lot of first responders on scene, we talked about what their experiences were or what role they had but also celebrated what they did to try and save Deputy Yates.”
Dr. Platoni survived the Fort Hood Massacre in 2009 where a suspect shot and killed 13 people and injured 30 more. It’s known as the deadliest mass shooting on an American military base in U.S. history.
“The rest of our units who were in a dining hall this entire time, nobody knew who died or survived in our unit, we lost five,” said Dr. Platoni. “I wear a bracelet with their names on it now. Everyone was hugging and crying figuring out who was and wasn’t there. We got back to the barracks and I told them, we’re not going to sleep tonight.”
Dr. Platoni said she spent a lot of time on Sunday giving first responders hugs and talking with them on scene, but even she knows, grief doesn’t have an expiration date.
“You must reach out, ask for a debriefing, make sure to talk with your colleagues, do not bury it because it will bury you,” said Dr. Platoni.
Dr. Platoni was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2019. She advocated for the victims and survivors of the Ft. Hood Massacre, that the event be reclassified from a ‘work place incident’ to a terrorist act, so that survivors and families of the fallen can receive proper benefits.
Dr. Platoni covers 37 police departments and six fire departments in the Miami Valley and she schedules appointments every day of the week.