Valley Oaks to launch virtual support group for first responders

During this time many organizations are stepping up to support first responders. News 18's Marvin Bills spoke with a therapist for Valley Oaks who says it's important to be there for front line workers who frequently face potentially dangerous and even traumatic situations.

Posted: Jul 3, 2020 5:08 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2020 7:33 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)—Therapist with Valley Oaks Health in Jasper County Kim Denton is preparing to facilitate a virtual first responder support group.

"I am elated to be offered to facilitate that type of group," said Denton. 

Denton said like many essential workers, first responders are dealing with a lot of challenges during this time.

"They are facing tremendous adversity right now you know they've got the pandemic that's going on and wondering every single call whether or not they'll be exposed," said Denton. 

According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 37% of EMS professionals have contemplated suicide, nearly 10 times the rate of American adults.

"They are at higher risk for anxiety, higher risk for depression, they are at higher risk for addiction, their PTS rates are much higher," said Denton. 

It's an idea Valley Oaks Health was able to create after receiving a grant from United Way in Tippecanoe County. An idea Regional Manager for Phoenix Paramedics Bob Miller said is creative and impactful.

"It has always been a challenge," said Miller. "You see things everyday you wish most people in their lives never see and when the pandemic came around and COVID-19 hit it changed the way I think Emergency Medical Services will be forever."

Miller said from the way ambulances are prepared, to first responders mentally preparing for the day during a pandemic is all mentally tasking.

"First responders think that they are a lot of times, invincible," said Miller. "They don't want to talk to anybody. They keep it all internalized, they can handle what they through themselves."

Miller said this virtual gathering will create a safe and inviting space for first responders to talk through difficult issues with support.

"They are going to be able to better handle the thought process we are having and understand why we feel why we feel."

The virtual event will take place via-Zoom on July 7th at 4pm and will last through the year. Any first responder in the State of Indiana can attend the virtual event. For information on registering click here. 

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