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First responders not immune to traumas’ impacts

Learn how they cope and what resources are available to them
Dealing with various traumas day in and day out can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and...
Dealing with various traumas day in and day out can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide among first responders.
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 3:41 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2021 at 11:41 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The impacts of traumas like dealing with the death of a child and severe injury of another extend beyond their families.

First responders also must cope with the stresses of what they saw and heard as they searched for then pulled those children from Cross Lake.

KSLA News 12′s Tayler Davis spoke with a counselor and a Shreveport Fire Department spokesman about the mental impacts on law officers, firefighters and others whose job it is to respond to such tragedies day in and day out.

Shreveport Assistant Fire Chief Clarence Reese said saving lives is what they do, but each situation takes a different toll.

“We care about everyone’s life; but when it’s a kid, it hits us a little differently.”

He explained what might go through first responders’ thoughts.

“As you’re trying to get to scenes and you’re trying to piece together some of the circumstances that have taken place. And when you hear of a story like that, you’re trying to fathom how it can happen. It’s difficult.”

A study by the Institutes of Health says that more than 80% of first responders experience some kind of traumatic event and one in three of them develop PTSD.

“It almost seems surreal just from reading it, so I can only imagine the people who were actually on the scene,” said Ryan Williams, who heads the Shreveport counseling center Seedlinks Behavior Management.

He said it’s OK for first responders to say they’re not OK.

“You’ve taken that badge off. You’ve taken that uniform off. And you remove the things that make you a first responder, but mentally you’re still at work.”

Williams advises them to watch out for signs within themselves like burnout. He says to find a healthy way to detach from work or speak to a therapist. 

Williams also said they now provide services to first responders in need of help.

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