LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- As first responders work around the clock to protect people, it’s important that they take care of their own mental health. That’s what an upcoming training will focus on.
It was created by TIP, the Trauma Intervention Program of Southern Nevada. TIP volunteers are often called to the scenes of tragedies to help victims and their families. This training offers that same kind of support for first responders.
When first responders get the call, they know they have a job to do.
“They're going to respond to thousands of horrific incidents in their career that normal humans don't have to see,” Henderson deputy fire chief Scott Vivier said.
While the focus is normally on helping victims and their families, each tragedy can affect each first responder differently.
“The sights and sounds, the emotions, the profound sense of loss and grief that they see and feel is transferred to them,” Vivier said. “And that burden can be heavy.”
A few years ago, Vivier noticed a nationwide trend.
“We're three times more likely to complete suicide,” he said. “The amount of challenges that we have with family relationships, as well as other mental health problems, is greatly higher in our industry than the average civilian.”
Part of the reason is because many first responders may not have an outlet to share what’s on their minds.
“Emergency responders, they have this tough outer callous that because they've been trained to respond, and react in the moment without feeling this emotion, often times what's going on inside is hidden,” Vivier said.
So Vivier got on board with TIP to offer mental health training. So far, hundreds have gone through the program.
“Everyone from emergency room nurses, to paramedics to detectives,” TIP CEO Jill Roberts said. “The list just goes on and on.”
Within the Clark County Fire Department, firefighters have been referring the training to one another.
The tips and tools are simple.
“How do you immediately interact, what do you say, what do you do,” Vivier said.
And Vivier added ultimately, it’s about reminding first responders that they don’t have to fix everything.
“If the first responders aren't calm, it's probably going to affect the person that we're serving,” Jackie Ricks said. Ricks works for the county fire department and completed the course.
“Specifically we had to let them know, it's okay to not be okay,” Vivier said. “You are a human. The work is demanding. While we need you to be physically fit, we also need you to be mentally fit to do the job because ultimately we're in the business of caring for people. And [your brain] is the most important tool that we use to take care of people.”
The monthly day-long course is so popular, there is a wait-list for every session. Next week’s training will be sponsored by the coroner’s office.
If you are a first responder and would like to know more about the training, contact Jill Roberts via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.