Northern Michigan First Responders Train to Offer Mental Health Support to Fellow First Responders

As COVID-19 cases rise, first responders and EMT’s are feeling the impact of the calls.

But there’s not always someone to talk to about the stress they’re feeling.

“We’re dealing with a lot of the patients that are getting sick with COVID, they might not have their family members with them because they can’t be there, so we have to be that resource, and we’re starting to see that impact on our first responders and nursing staff, and so that started come on top of all our other calls,” said Peninsula Township Firefighter and EMT Cobey Taylor.

But finding someone to talk to about that trauma and the mental health struggles that come with it, isn’t always easy for first responders.

New training in the Grand Traverse Area aims to change that.

“Having peers that are trained in this process, and if a police department or fire department has really bad fatal car accident, or you know officer about in a shooting, we can send a peer or peers. It’s always easier to work with them, and when they see one of their own, then it’s like this is safe,” said Susan Elben, Licensed Medical Social Worker.

Recent numbers show firefighter suicides outnumbered line of duty deaths by double in 2019. First responders also face higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, all the more reason, these departments want to make sure there’s someone to turn to.

“For so long, working in fire service, EMS, military, law enforcement, we’ve always been told just to hide it, basically just it’s part of your job to go on with it. Now, with the increased numbers of first responder suicides, military veteran’s suicides, we’re starting to see that is not working,” said Taylor.

For resources and help, click here and here.

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