A practicing clinical psychologist of nearly 40 years is speaking out on the impact of losing a first responder.
As an officer in the army reserve, Dr. Kathy Platoni voluntarily deployed four times to support her fellow soldiers in combat zones. she’s also a member of Dayton SWAT.
“I now cover 37 police departments and six fire departments for whatever services they need whenever they need them. And they are not hesitant to call. That’s why I work seven days a week,” said Platoni.
Platoni was called to the shooting and standoff at Harmony Estates Mobile Home Park where Clark County Sheriff’s deputy Matthew Yates was killed in the line of duty Sunday.
“I saw the looks of horror on the faces of police officers and firefighters and paramedics and deputy sheriff’s and people crying,” said Platoni.
This is not the first time she’s responded to an officer-down call.
In 2011, Platoni helped de-brief the first responders who went to the Enon Beach mobile-home park shootout that took the life of Clark County Sheriff’s deputy Suzanne Hopper.
“I spent a lot of time hugging people and expressing my condolences and asking them what I could do to help them. That is my role,” said Platoni.
As a member of the Southwest Ohio Critical Incident Stress Management team, she holds debriefings to help first responders process the loss of a fellow law enforcement officer.
“They don’t have a choice but to pack up these horrible burdens and return to duty,” said Platoni.
Debriefings follow a seven-step process, and it’s very discreet.
“Nothing is recorded. It’s by law. Everything remains confidential,” said Platoni. “We start with introductions and have everybody tell what their role was on the scene.”
Then the floor opens to anyone who wants to express what they’re feeling.
“Usually everybody talks, we basically asked them to walk us through what they did on scene so everybody really understands the importance of their role, even if it was just to be there for support,” said Platoni.
That’s exactly what happened after the sudden loss of Deputy Yates.
“And there is no expiration date on grief, especially for an incident like this with a ripple effect that can’t even be measured,” said Platoni.
That’s what she wants the public to understand.
“Who are you going to call when crisis and disaster strikes? You’re going to call the police or you’re going to call first. But we forget that these are human beings too, and experienced terrible things in the line of duty,” said Platoni.