First responders get help dealing with mental health

Local first responders take in three day Critical Incident Stress Management Training
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 2:30 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - First responders find themselves on the frontlines of some of the most tragic and gruesome incidents on nearly a daily basis.

While they work to protect those they serve, they often do so at a cost to themselves.

“Most people in the community may see a tragic event once or twice in their lifetime. These folks that are in this room today may see one or two a shift,” said Chatham Emergency Services paramedic & firefighter Dale Simmons.

It’s part of the job most first responders don’t like to talk about.

“We think we can handle ourselves. We can just suck it and do it,” Simmons says.

A burden they feel they can carry, until they can’t.

“We are seeing actually, more retired public safety committing suicide than anything else,” said Critical Incident Consulting President Scott Dakin.

A trend and stigma Dakin is aiming to change by doing what they typically don’t, talking about it.

“It’s not normal for us to see what we see. It’s time to talk about that, deal with it, admit that it bothers us and start healing from it,” Dakin says.

Dakin, trains first responders on Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM).

Helping them to stop burying their struggles and start getting the help they need.

“One of the things we talk about in EMS is, ‘if we get hurt, we can’t help others.’ This is effecting our ability to be able to treat the community that we’re out here to help on a day to day basis,” said Simmons.

Something Dakin has experienced firsthand.

“I was actually diagnosed many years ago with PTSD.”

He, like so many others, once kept to himself but is now finding healing through sharing.

“It’s time we started taking care of ourselves. It’s time we started holding each other up and help each other out,” Dakin said.

So, perhaps what really makes a hero, is admitting when you need help.

“We are there to support but sometimes we need support,” said Emergency Preparedness Training Coordinator Catina Lumpkin.

And being tough means being willing to show your weakness.

“I really hope that they take back that it’s okay that a call bothers you. That’s really okay,” Dakin says.

The CISM training will continue through Wednesday but Dakin says they have another class coming up this fall and he encourages everyone to attend.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.