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Dispatcher training program wraps up with speakers, activities

Marietta College Police Dispatcher Jim Arnold and Washington County Sheriff’s Dispatcher Kevin Burns sit back-to-back during a scenario. Burns was the dispatcher, while Arnold was the caller. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

The Dispatcher Crisis Intervention Team training wrapped up Wednesday after a second day of speakers and activities.

At the end of the day, there were scenarios to help dispatchers learn what to do in certain situations, followed by a panel of people who have been helped by 911 dispatchers and law enforcement.

The two days of training were funded by the Washington County Board of Behavioral Health.

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LeeAnn Price, who lost her son to suicide in 2009, was the first to speak Wednesday afternoon. She said she spent the next year not wanting to live, but now she works with the Washington County Suicide Awareness Alliance. She said before the alliance, there wasn’t a support group that met the needs of people as soon as a suicide occurred.

Four people who were impacted by 911 and law enforcement made up a discussion panel Wednesday. From left are Jovonnah Burns, Tracy Lamp, Jarrett Barnhouse and LeeAnn Price. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

“We go to scenes where suicides are completed,” she said. “Not committed, but completed suicide.”

If she is called to a location where a suicide has taken place and children are nearby, she has a bag with coloring books and pencils and books to read to the kids.

“We don’t get involved in the scene, we’re only involved with kids,” she explained.

She said the alliance helps the family with phone calls and then goes to the funeral home to help them through calling hours.

“It’s such a struggle for these families,” she said. “I struggle with not being able to tell my son I love him.”

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Jarrett Barnhouse is a recovering addict and works with the behavioral health board.

He said he went through the juvenile system and spent time in and out of jail.

“My addiction launched itself the first time I used around age 9,” he said. “I think I was on probation from ages 10 to 18.”

He said the older he got, the harder drugs he used, starting with marijuana and alcohol, then using pain pills before moving on to heroin.

“I was progressing and jamming needles in my arms,” he said. “It was groundhog day feeding the addiction.”

He said the urge to use was strong and he would do anything to get it. But while he was in jail, he had a “spiritual awakening.”

He started going to meetings and working the 12-step process. He said until he finally got clean, all of his interactions with law enforcement were negative. Now, they are all positive.

“I’ve been doing CIT (crisis intervention team) a few years,” he explained. “I took so much from the community, I wanted to find some little ways to give back.”

His clean day is June 4, 2005, but he still goes to meetings and keeps plugged in to help him find balance.

“I have friends that drink and smoke pot and they have an off-switch,” he explained. “I don’t have an off-switch.”

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Tracy Lamp spent 26 years in addiction, starting at age 15.

She said she used Xanax, Percocet and Vicodin, but didn’t get into trouble with law enforcement until about 10 years ago. She went to jail under a misdemeanor.

In 2016, she started using methamphetamine and in 2017, she was arrested in a drug raid. She spent 30 days in jail, but it didn’t help.

“I was getting high on probation,” she said.

After getting caught by her probation officer, she went back to jail for another 30 days.

She was eventually sent to COMPASS drug court.

“It showed me structure and consistency, even when I didn’t want to do things,” she said.

On July 17, she was the first to graduate from the Washington County drug court. She works at Brandi’s Legacy and goes to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

“The job helps. It’s a constant reminder of where I don’t ever want to be again,” she said.

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Jovonnah Burns is a peer recovery support specialist at Marietta Memorial Hospital. She has been in recovery for 12 years.

“I started with pot and drinking at 12 or 13,” she said. At age 13, she started crushing and snorting pain pills.

Over the years, she used methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy and Adderall. She eventually started running drugs on her college campus in Kentucky.

In 2008, her best friend died of an overdose.

“People say it was a bad batch, but it was a wake-up call for me,” she said. “I stuck the needle in her arm and she didn’t wake up.”

After that, “I was on a mission to kill myself. I was doing whatever was available,” she said.

She said things have changed.

“I’m super lucky to be in the place I am,” she said.

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