First responders learn to take care of each other -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

First responders learn to take care of each other


By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - People's lives depend on the work of first responders. It's a stressful job.

This week, emergency workers got some help dealing with that stress. Friday, first responders wrapped up a four day stress management seminar in Thomasville.

They do a job many of us couldn't handle for more than a day. First responders see unimaginable events on a daily basis, and eventually it can take a toll.

"I think that's one of the things we've realized is part of what we're missing," says Kellie Odom, the director of Risk Management at Archbold Hospital. "As caregivers we spend so much time taking care of others and stabilizing patients that we lose site of how it involves us emotionally and how we're going to react to it."

Emergency workers from several area counties began forming critical incident stress management teams. Officials spoke about the importance of building support systems to address traumatic events.

"I think there's still a certain level of stigma associated with mental illness or mental events," explains Brenda Green, the Southwest District Public Health Director. "So I think we're trying to help people understand that it's a normal response."

"That's what we're trying to eliminate," adds Thomasville's Deputy Fire Chief Allen Powell. "A lot of times men do try to hide their emotions. But by building this team, we tend to look out for each other. And the women, they see things we miss like the sensitive side. So by working with them we can have longevity in this career."

The teams acted out scenarios and discussed policies regarding post-traumatic stress.

"If you're going to stay in this career for a long time, you've got to look out for your peers," continues Powell. "It's a 20 year period, 30 year period, and you have to have a right sound mind to do this line of work. It can get the best of you if you're not properly trained or debriefed."

Proving that the heroes who provide care for us, may need a little "T.L.C." themselves.

Officials say it's critical to have stress management teams in every county. Studies show that traumatic stress is best treated within forty-eight hours of a tragic event.

Some departments have to wait longer for support if they don't have their own team.

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