911 call shows toll on dispatchers during Struthers shooting

Ohio

The initial call for help came from a cell phone and rang into Boardman police, who quickly got ahold of Struthers

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – As chaotic as the shooting scene Monday on Perry Street in Struthers may have been, it was an emotional time for dispatchers trying to get help to the victims.

The initial call for help came from a cell phone and rang into Boardman police, who quickly got ahold of Struthers.

As the Boardman dispatcher tried to get information from the distraught victim, she managed to connect with Struthers to get first responders to the scene.

Boarman dispatcher: “We got help coming. We got help coming. We got help coming, ok? Just stay talking to me.”

In the frantic moments before police could get to there, the situation is clearly chaotic, both for the victims on Perry Street and for the dispatchers.

Boardman dispatcher: “Struthers go ahead and get your people there.”
Struthers dispatcher: “My people are going now…I’m sorry, I’m sorry”
Boardman dispatcher: “Take a deep breath.”

As the Struthers dispatcher relayed information about the victims and the suspect to officers and firefighters. Boardman stayed on the call as well, providing much needed reassurance.

Boardman dispatcher: “Alright, I’m gonna stay with you, alright? Just take a deep breath.”

Roughly six minutes from their initial contact with each other, the dispatchers are told police are on the scene, and you can hear the tension beginning to ease.

Struthers dispatcher: “I appreciate you.”
Boardman dispatcher: “Me, too.”
Struthers dispatcher: “Cause you are helping me beyond belief.”
Boardman dispatcher: “I know, just take a deep breath. It’s gonna be alright, ok? Just take a deep breath.”

But the break lasts only a moment, and another call comes into Struthers dispatch asking for help.

Boardman dispatcher: If you need me, call back, ok?
Struthers dispatcher: “Thank you.”

And then on to another call.

Struthers dispatch: “Struthers 911, what’s you’re emergency?”

Those that answer those emergency calls may need help coping with what they see and hear.

Traumatic scenes, such as the Struthers shooting, can easily leave first responders with serious psychological injuries that can overwhelm them.

Compass Family and Community Services offered a debriefing session Tuesday to give those affected by the tragedy the time to share their emotions.

“When you stay in that mode for a long period of time, it’s not like something you walk away from and come down from. This is something you bring home. It’s something that you take back to the department the next day. That’s what’s poppin’ in your mind,” said CEO and President Joe Carusso. “

Experts are reaching out to the family of the young victim, Rowan Sweeney, as well as schools in Struthers to offer counseling and other help if needed, Carusso said.

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