First responders utilize communication and peer counseling to protect mental health

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BURBANK, CA – SEPTEMBER 02: Flames rise behind a firefighter at the La Tuna Fire on September 2, 2017 near Burbank, California. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference that officials believe the fire, which is at 5,000 acres and growing, is the largest fire ever in L.A. People have been evacuated […]

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KDAF) – Firefighters, police, and paramedics react to dangerous situations every day and that can take a toll on their mental health.

Maintaining mental wellness can be a critical part of a first responder’s job especially since these men and women experience constant exposure to trauma and life-threatening situations.

In a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 first responders, 85% reported mental health symptoms and one-third reported actual diagnoses of depression or PTSD.

The Nixa Fire District explains their efforts to help the men and women who serve in the department.

Assistant Chief of the Nixa Fire Department, Whitney Weaver, said some first responders might chalk it up to the challenges of the job and may not seek help.

“We are kind of blessed here with a fire department chaplain that’s very progressive,” said Weaver. “He’s had a lot of training in counseling and peer counseling, so we’re kind of lucky to have him here.”

Weaver said knowing this the department is intentional about checking in on one another. He said sometimes all it takes is someone who is willing to have a conversation.

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